A childhood bout with rheumatic fever may have contributed to the heart problems that led to actor Bill Paxton’s death, a news report says.
Paxton’s died at age 61 following a fatal stroke, which was a postoperative complication of heart surgery, it was reported Sunday.
No details of the problem that led to the heart surgery have been reported, but rheumatic fever can damage the heart valves, which sometimes require surgical repair or replacement.
In a podcast interview weeks before the actor’s passing on Saturday, Paxton opened up about the disease, the Daily News reports.
In the interview, the popular actor addresses the issue of his health, saying the ailment often led to heart valve damage.
The podcast host then asked the actor if Paxton experienced heart damage following his battle with the infection. “’Well yeah," he replied, his voice petering away. "Yeah, yeah, yeah,”’ the article says.
Paxton says in the interview that doctors told him he had contracted the illness from a "bad sore throat" he had suffered at the age of 13.
Untreated or undertreated strep throat or other infections with strep bacteria that progress to rheumatic fever can cause heart valve disease.
When the body tries to fight the strep infection, one or more heart valves may be damaged or scarred in the process. The aortic and mitral valves most often are affected, the National Institutes of Health says.
Symptoms of heart valve damage often don’t appear until many years after recovery from rheumatic fever, the NIH notes.
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