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Can rheumatic fever lead to heart complications?

Q: My father had contraction in the valve which led to surgery and the valves were replaced. The doctor told that this happens over a period of time. One of the reasons he said was the itching which my father had in his throat because of which he used to do continuous gargle with salt water. Could itching in the throat be one of the reasons for the valve contraction? I am asking this as I also have itching in the throat very often.

A:It appears that your father had the replacement of a heart valve which became narrow due to rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever begins as a sore throat which could be associated with itching and irritation even though fever is a major and constant symptom. To remove your doubt you should have a throat swab taken without delay. A good hospital will do tests to determine whether your throat has a microbe known as haemolytic streptococcus, which causes rheumatic fever. If they are detected their removal by treatment is easy and it can prevent rheumatic heart disease.

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