The best defense against rheumatic heart disease is to prevent rheumatic fever from ever occurring.

  1. Treating strep throat with penicillin or other antibiotics, doctors can usually stop acute rheumatic fever from developing.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.