Rheumatic heart disease. During a first rheumatic fever attack
, about half of people develop heart
inflammation, but this doesn't always result in permanent damage. Most people with rheumatic fever recover fully after six weeks. In some cases, however, one or more of the heart's valves may be scarred. Permanent heart damage due to rheumatic fever is known as rheumatic heart disease. In many cases, heart damage isn't discovered until years later.