In many parts of the world, rheumatic heart disease is part of history. “It’s the scarlet fever you read about in a Jane Austen novel,” said Stanford cardiology fellow Andrew Chang, MD. Globally, however, the disease still affects more than 30 million people, causing a quarter of all cases of heart failure.
Often, it begins as an undiagnosed case of strep throat. Without a course of antibiotics, the infection can become rheumatic fever and damage heart valves until the heart can no longer pump effectively.
Chang traveled to Rwanda as a resident in Stanford’s global health track within the Department of Medicine. While there, he witnessed the punishing impact of the preventable disease. “It really shook me,” he said.
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