Rheumatic heart disease is characterized by inflammation in the heart muscle. When it occurs, the muscle fibers are damaged and this leads to the flow of blood being interrupted. It can cause a heart attack or death in those who are suffering from it. If you have an infirmity that affects the heart muscles, then it is essential to know what rheumatic heart disease is. It is also important to know the causes of this infirmity, so as to be aware of the preventive measures that one can do to avoid getting it. Rheumatic heart diseases can affect both men and women and it can last for years. There is no exact number on how many people suffer from it but it is estimated that more than thirty million Americans are affected by it. The prevalence of rheumatic heart disease has risen mainly because of the poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. There are some other factors that make it prominent in our lives today. These include genetics, chronic inflammation, high cholesterol levels, obesity, lack of exercise and stress. There are different types of what rheumatic heart disease is. Some of them are cardiomyopathy, endocarditis, mitral valve prolapse, congenital heart disease, stenosis cardiomyopathy, congenital heart valve defects, peripheral arterial occlusive disease and many others. Each of these has specific symptoms and it helps to know them so that one can identify if they are affected by it or not. They differ in terms of pain, blood flow, heart rate and even in appearance. One of the most common symptoms of what rheumatic heart disease is shortness of breath. When it happens, one generally breathes rapidly as the lungs become inflated. Shortness of breath is also known to occur during exercise when there is increased heart beat. The heart has to pump more blood to supply for the extra demands made on it. If the heart cannot adequately do its job, it can lead to serious problems. Another symptom is heart palpitations. This happens when the heart is beating fast but there is no blood flow in the arteries leading to it. It is also known to be a pre-stroke condition. Patients may also notice irregular heart beat rhythms. These rhythms may vary from heart to heart. This is known to be a sign of a heart defect that can cause other heart diseases or death.