Rheumatism.  Strep A. Photo from www.sciencephoto.com

What is it?

Rheumatism— A disease that develops gradually and imperceptibly. It occurs after a streptococcal infection and inflammation is the connective tissue that is present in all organs and body systems. The first involved the heart, blood vessels and cartilage.


"Start up" special bacteria disease —beta hemolytic group B streptococci A. Once inside our body, they can cause a sore throat (tonsillitis), pharyngitis, lymphadenitis. However rheumatism This may be a consequence of infection only if a person has a certain immune system defects. According to statistics, only 03-3% Of people who have had an acute streptococcal infection, ill with rheumatism.

Risk factors for the development of rheumatic fever:

  • presence of rheumatic fever or systemic connective tissue disease in first-degree relatives (mother, father, brothers, sisters)
  • womanhood
  • age 7 — 15 years
  • surviving an acute streptococcal infection and frequent nasal infections
  • content of a particular protein in the body — B-cell marker D8/17

What's going on?

When streptococcus enters the body, the human immune system begins to fight with him, producing specific antibodies. They "know" streptococcus on special molecules on its surface. However, the connective tissue and cardiac muscle rheumatic predisposed individuals are similar in structure to the molecule. And the antibodies attack the body's own tissues. This leads to the development of inflammation in the connective tissue, primarily the heart and joints. Thus cloth can be deformed — so there are heart defects and distortions of the joints.

What is shown?

Usually, the first symptoms of rheumatic fever appear after two or three weeks after a sore throat or pharyngitis. Man begins to experience general weakness and pain in the joints, the temperature may rise sharply. Sometimes, the disease progresses very secretive: the temperature is low (about 37.0), moderate weakness, heart and joints work as if nothing happened. Typically, a person begins to worry only after he develops serious problems with the joints — arthritis.

Most often, the disease affects the joints of the large and medium: there is pain in the knees, elbows, wrists and feet. Pain may be sharp appear and just as abruptly disappear even without treatment. But make no mistake — rheumatoid arthritis did not disappear.

Another important feature of rheumatic fever — heart problems: disorders of the heart rate (too fast or too slow), disruptions in heart rhythm, heart pain. Person concerned shortness of breath, weakness, sweating. This is due to the development of inflammation of the heart — rheumatic heart disease. In 25% of cases of rheumatic heart disease that results in the formation of heart disease.

After the first attack of rheumatic months or years may occur repeated with similar symptoms. They can also lead to joint deformities and defects of the heart.

If rheumatic fever struck the nervous system, the patient has involuntary movements of various muscles (face, neck, extremities, trunk). It appears grimaces, artsy movements, a violation of handwriting, slurred speech and is called chorea small (old name — St. Vitus's dance). This disorder occurs in12-17% Of patients with rheumatic disease, more common in girls 6-15 years.


Diagnosis can only rheumatologist. To avoid mistakes, it must conduct a comprehensive survey.

First, appoint a common clinical blood test to detect signs of inflammation.

Secondly, to immunological blood tests to detect specific substances, characteristic for rheumatism. These substances appear in the blood, not earlier than one week after the onset of the disease and to reach a maximum3-6 week.

To clarify the degree of damage to the heart, electrocardiography is required (ECG) and echocardiogram of the heart. Assess the condition of the joints will help X-ray. If necessary, a well arthroscopy, joint biopsy, diagnostic puncture of the joint research with the joint fluid.

Rheumatic damage to other organs may be necessary consultations by specialists.

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