Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Strep Throat May Cause Rheumatic Fever

strepIf as a kid you had rheumatic fever, you need to be aware that an untreated strep throat can retrigger your rheumatic fever, which is an inflammatory disease that can affect the heart, joints and central nervous system.

There is a particular type of strep bacterium called group A bhs that is the one that can trigger an autoimmune response, causing the body to turn on itself. One of the proteins on the strep bacterium’s surface is called the M protein. The M protein structurally resembles certain heart proteins. The body’s natural defense response is to create antibodies to fight the strep and the M protein.

This leads to the body attacking some of the heart tissue and heart values. Damage to the values can lead to permanent and often serious rheumatic heart disease.

Since a lot of docs might never have seen rheumatic fever thanks to its near elimination, you might need to point out to your doc the connection if you’ve had rheumatic fever and you get a strep throat infection.

(Reported Discover May 2011)

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