The key to preventing preventing severe heart damage is early detection.
Longterm treatment with antibiotics can prevent the throat infections that lead to reactivation of the disease.
Traditionally detection has been done be enquiring about a history of rheumatic fever and by listening to the heart with a stethoscope.
Heart scanning with ultrasound has been demonstrated to be ten times as sensitive as the traditional method and is now recommended for screening. Unfortunately access to this technology is limited especially in economically deprived areas.