The Dangers of Untreated Strep Throat
Stenosis of the mitral valve is a narrowing of the heart valve that allows movement of blood from the left atrium into the left ventricle. This abnormality of the mitral valve inhibits blood flow through the heart thereby increasing pressure within structures upstream of the deformity leading to shortness of breath due to fluid buildup in the lungs due to pulmonary hypertension. Symptoms of mitral valve stenosis include fatigue, shortness of breath especially upon exertion, swelling in the lower extremities, heart palpitations, dizziness or fainting, coughing up blood, and chest discomfort. Symptoms worsen after increased demand on the heart such as during exercise or pregnancy.
Pertinent findings upon physical examination include heart palpitations, murmurs, or arrhythmias. Mitral valve stenosis results in a diastolic murmur meaning that the first heart sound is much more pronounced while the second heart sound is normal. This lower pitched rumbling sounding murmur starts after the opening snap of the mitral valve and lasts until mid diastole.
The main cause of mitral valve stenosis is due to rheumatic fever caused by untreated strep infections scarring the mitral valve possibly leading to thickening or fusion of the leaflets of the bicuspid (mitral) valve. The symptoms of this valve deformity may not become apparent until years after infection.
The best way to prevent mitral valve stenosis is to prevent rheumatic fever by getting your sore throat checked out by a physician. The most common cause of sore throat is strep pharyngitis and can be easily treated with antibiotics.