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Endocarditis is an inflammation or infection of the endocardium, which is the inner lining of the heart muscle and, most commonly, the heart valves. It is usually caused by bacterial infection, but can be caused by fungus.
Alternative Names of Endocarditis are: Valve infection.
Complications of Endocarditis
Endocarditis can cause several major complications:
Causes of Endocarditis
Signs & Symptoms of Endocarditis
Diagnosis of Endocarditis
Diagnosis is usually suspected based upon the patient's history, symptoms, and findings such as a new murmur. It may be confirmed by blood tests (blood cultures) to identify an infectious organism. An echocardiogram (an ultrasound study of the heart muscle and valves) may be helpful in identifying a clump of bacteria on the heart valve.
Treatments of Endocarditis
Bacterial endocarditis almost always requires hospitalization for antibiotic therapy, generally given intravenously, at least at the outset. Occasionally, therapy with oral antibiotics at home will be successful. Antibiotic therapy usually must continue for at least a month. Most patients respond rapidly to institution of appropriate antibiotics, with over 70 percent of patients becoming afebrile (without a fever) within one week. In unusual cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace a damaged heart valve.
Prevention of Endocarditis
It is important that you mention to your physician or dentist any risk factors you may have for endocarditis. Those who have any predisposing factors for bacterial endocarditis (including prosthetic heart valves, previous bacterial endocarditis, congenital heart disease, rheumatic valve dysfunction, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and mitral valve prolapse with valvular regurgitation) should be given antibiotics before most medical or dental surgeries and whenever any significant skin infection occurs. Your physician will recommend which antibiotic(s) to take before, and in some cases, after your procedure.
When to seek Medical Advice
If you develop signs or symptoms of endocarditis, see your doctor right away — especially if you have risk factors for this serious infection. Signs and symptoms may include:
Although less serious conditions can cause similar signs and symptoms, you won't know for sure until you see a doctor.
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