Rheumatic Heart Disease

The first step in diagnosing rheumatic heart disease is establishing that your child recently had a strep infection. The doctor may order a throat culture, a blood test, or both to check for the presence of strep antibodies. However, it is likely that signs of the strep infection may be gone by the time you take your child to the doctor. In that case, the doctor will need you to try to remember if your child recently had a sore throat or other symptoms of a strep infection.

The doctor will do a physical examination and check your child for signs of rheumatic fever, including joint pain and inflammation. The doctor also will listen to your child's heart to check for abnormal rhythms or murmurs that may signify that the heart has been strained.

In addition, there are a couple of tests that may be used to check the heart and assess damage, including:

  • Chest X-ray to check the size of the heart and to see if there is excess fluid in the heart or lungs
  • Echocardiogram, a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create a moving image of the heart and to measure its size and shape

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Heart Center

Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
1975 Fourth St., Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1955
Fax: (415) 353-9144

Pediatric Heart Center Clinic at Mission Bay
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2008
Fax: (415) 353-4144
Appointment information