The best defense against rheumatic heart disease is to prevent rheumatic fever from ever occurring.
- Treating strep throat with penicillin or other antibiotics, doctors can usually stop acute rheumatic fever from developing.
- People who've already had rheumatic fever are more susceptible to attacks and heart damage. That's why they're given continuous monthly or daily antibiotic treatment, maybe for life.
- If their heart has been damaged by rheumatic fever, they're also given a different antibiotic when they undergo dental or surgical procedures. This helps prevent bacterial endocarditis, a dangerous infection of the heart's lining or valves.