Endocarditis – infectious
Definition of Infectious endocarditis
Infectious endocarditis is an infection of the lining of the heart chambers and heart valves that is caused by bacteria, fungi, or other infectious substances.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Endocarditis is usually a result of a blood infection. Bacteria or other infectious substance can enter the bloodstream during certain medical procedures, including dental procedures, and travel to the heart, where it can settle on damaged heart valves. The bacteria can grow and may form infected clots that break off and travel to the brain, lungs, kidneys, or spleen.
Symptoms of endocarditis may develop slowly (subacute) or suddenly (acute). Fever is the classic symptom and may persist for days before any other symptoms appear.
Signs and tests
The health care provider may hear abnormal sounds, called murmurs, when listening to your heart with a stethoscope.
You will be admitted to the hospital so you can receive antibiotics through a vein. Long-term, high-dose antibiotic treatment is needed to get rid of the bacteria. Treatment is usually given for 4 – 6 weeks, depending on the specific type of bacteria. Blood tests will help your doctor choose the best antibiotic.
Early treatment of bacterial endocarditis generally has a good outcome. Heart valves may be damaged if diagnosis and treatment are delayed.
Daniel Levy, MD, Infectious Disease, Maryland Family Care, Lutherville, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 4/28/2008