Rheumatic fever is a complication of untreated or poorly treated scarlet fever or strep throat. It is extremely rare in the United States though more common in underdeveloped countries. Children who are between 5 and 15 years old are most at risk for contracting the condition, even though it can happen to people of all ages. Due to the rarity of this condition in the United States, many people lack the information and knowledge to understand what is truly going on.
Information. Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that can affect the heart, the central nervous system, the skin and the joints. In some cases it leaves the heart permanently damaged. This is because the valves of the heart are injured by the inflammation and then scarred. The heart valve can be narrowed, which restricts the flow of blood. Leaky valves let the blood flow backwards in a condition called valve regurgitation. The heart muscle itself can be damaged by the disease, which compromises its ability to pump effectively. This can lead to heart failure later in life. Joint problems are the second most common complications of the rheumatic fever.