Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers and valves. It becomes inflamed as a result of bacteria or other organisms.
Endocarditis is a deadly infection that can affect the heart. It is caused by bacteria or other germs that enter the bloodstream and settle on or damage the delicate inner lining of the heart chambers and valves. If left untreated, endocarditis can lead to serious health problems and even death. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for endocarditis.
What is endocarditis?
Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers and valves. The endocardium is the inner lining of the heart that becomes inflamed as a result of bacteria or other organisms.
What causes endocarditis?
It’s usually caused by bacteria or other germs that enter your bloodstream and settle on your heart.
Endocarditis often starts as a minor infection somewhere else in your body. The bacteria then travel through your bloodstream to your heart. Once there, they can attach to damaged heart valves or damaged heart tissue and form clumps called vegetations.
Vegetations are collections of bacteria and other debris that can break off and travel to other parts of your body, such as your brain, kidneys, or lungs.
Risk factors of endocarditis
Several factors can increase your risk of endocarditis, including:
- Having a heart condition, such as mitral valve prolapse or a previous heart valve replacement (artificial heart valves or damaged heart valves)
- Having had endocarditis before
- Using intravenous drug
- Congenital heart defects
- Older age
- Having had a total joint replacement
- Having had certain types of heart surgery
Who is at risk for endocarditis?
People with certain heart conditions are at greater risk for endocarditis. These include:
- Heart valve problems
- Previous endocarditis
- A history of rheumatic fever
- A congenital heart defect
What are the symptoms of endocarditis?
The symptoms of endocarditis can vary depending on the person. They may come and go, or they may get worse over time.
The most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
Other symptoms may include:
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away.
How is endocarditis diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects you have endocarditis, he or she will order a variety of tests, including:
- Blood tests
- A chest X-ray
- An echocardiogram
- A cardiac MRI
How is endocarditis treated?
Treatment for endocarditis usually involves a combination of antibiotics and surgery. The type of surgery you have will depend on the severity of your condition.
In some cases, endocarditis can be fatal. If you have endocarditis, it’s important to see your doctor right away and get the treatment you need.
Endocarditis is a serious condition, but it can be treated. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can improve your chances of a full recovery.
What are the complications of endocarditis?
If endocarditis is not treated, it can lead to serious complications, including:
- Heart failure
- Kidney damage
- Valve damage
- Infection of other organs
- Abscess formation
- Blood clots
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of endocarditis, including:
- Taking care of your teeth and gums
- Getting regular dental checkups
- Avoiding contact with people who have infections
- Washing your hands regularly
- Getting vaccinated against certain infections, such as the flu
- Don’t use illegal IV drugs
If you develop any symptoms of infection, see your doctor as soon as possible — especially a fever that won’t go away, unexplained tiredness, any sort of skin illness, or open wounds or sores that don’t heal properly. Endocarditis is a serious condition, but it can be prevented.