If you have been diagnosed with rheumatic fever (RF), then you should do everything possible to prevent it from damaging your heart. If the fever moves to your heart (a condition known as rheumatic heart disease or RHD), it damages the valves and interferes with proper blood circulation within the heart. Here are measures to prevent RHD and cardiovascular disease:
Proper Antibacterial Treatment
Eliminating or reducing the bacterial load is the best way to prevent RF from developing into RHD. Your doctor will prescribe a regimen of antibacterial medications that you should follow religiously. The most common of these medications is penicillin and aspirin, which you may have to take for many years.
Maintain a Strong Immunity System
According to WebMD, a weakened immunity increases your chances of developing RHD, so do everything in your power to keep your body's immunity strong. Some of the helpful measures here include:
- Avoiding tobacco
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate sleep
- Moderating your alcohol intake
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting proper nutrition
According to Harvard Health Publications, you should be wary of products that promise to bolster up your immunity. Most of them either don't work or can endanger your health. If you want to try something, it is a good idea to ask your doctor about it first.
Tell Your Dentist About Your Fever
It is also advisable to tell your dentist if you have, or have had RF before. The fever increases your chances of developing bacterial endocarditis. During a dental procedure such tooth extraction, the oral bacteria may get into your bloodstream and flow into your heart. Oral bacteria are more damaging to the heart than your mouth because they can eat away the inner lining of your heart.
If the dentist knows that you have the fever, then he or she will take extra precautions when working on your teeth. For example, he or she may give you antibiotics before extracting your tooth. This lowers the risk of the bacteria getting into your bloodstream.
Observe Dental Hygiene
For the same reason outlined above, you should observe a high degree of dental hygiene. The more pathogens you have in your mouth, the higher the risk that some of them will get into your blood vessels. Brush and floss regularly, and have every "small" dental problem you may have checked by a dentist.
These are some of the measures that have helped many people with rheumatic fever from developing rheumatic heart disease. Remember that you may have to observe them for many years. You run the risk of developing RHD at any time if you get complacent.