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

  • Causes

    Causes of endocarditis include:

    • Bacterial infection, which is the most common cause
    • Viral or fungal infection
    • Medical conditions that result in blood clotting too easily, causing a noninfectious form
    Bacterial Endocarditis
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  • Definition

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

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check your heart for unusual heart sounds. These are called
    heart murmurs.

    Tests include:

    • Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
    • Your heart may be examined. This can be done with

  • Prevention

    If you have a high risk of infection:

    • You may need to take antibiotics before certain dental or medical procedures.
    • Talk to your dentist or doctor before the procedure.

    The American Heart Association guidelines recommend that preventive antibiotic therapy should be considered for individuals with the following cardiac conditions:

    • Various forms of congenital heart disease—heart defects
    • Artificial heart valves
    • History of endocarditis
    • Heart transplant
      recipients who have developed valve disease

    Avoiding illegal IV drugs will also decrease your risk of infection.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of getting endocarditis include:

    • Having 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
      • Bronchoscopy
      • Surgery on the gastrointestinal, urinary, or respiratory tracts
      • Gallbladder or prostate surgery

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of endocarditis 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

  • 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 or has caused heart failure