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Endocarditis

Definition:
Endocarditis is an infection of the heart valves and the endocardium. The endocardium is the inner lining of the heart muscle.

Causes:
Causes include:
  • Bacterial infection (most common cause)
  • Viral or fungal infection
  • Medical conditions that result in blood clotting too easily (This causes a noninfectious form.)
Risk Factors:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
  • An artificial heart valve
  • History of endocarditis
  • History of rheumatic fever, which can damage heart valves
  • Heart defects
  • Enlarged heart
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • History of IV drug use
  • Recent procedures that can lead to bacterial endocarditis, including:
    • Tooth cleaning
    • Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
    • Bronchoscopy
    • Surgery on the gastrointestinal, urinary, or respiratory tracts
    • Gallbladder or prostate surgery
Symptoms:
Symptoms include:
  • Fever, chills
  • Weakness, low energy
  • Sweatiness, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Painful red bumps on the fingers and toes
  • Purple dots on the whites of the eyes, under the fingernails, and over the collarbone
  • Painful red patches on the fingers, palms and soles
Diagnosis:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. The doctor will check your heart for unusual heart sounds (called murmurs).

Tests include:

  • Blood Tests – to check for infection
  • Echocardiogram – a test that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
Treatment:
Treatment may include:

Antibiotics – given through your veins for up to 4–8 weeks.

Surgery – to repair or replace the valve if it is severely damaged.

Prevention:
  • If you are at risk for endocarditis during certain medical procedures, take antibiotics before the procedure. Medical conditions that require this preventive antibiotic therapy include:
    • Heart defects
    • Artificial heart valves
    • History of endocarditis
  • Never use illegal intravenous drugs.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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