Infectious Endocarditis – What is it, Symptoms and Treatments!

Infectious Endocarditis – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. Also, Infectious Endocarditis is an infection in the heart valves or endocardium. The endocardium is the lining of the heart . This condition is usually caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and infect the heart .

Bacteria can originate from:

  • Mouth
  • Skin
  • intestine
  • Respiratory system
  • urinary tract

When this condition is caused by bacteria , it is also known as bacterial endocarditis. In rare cases, it can also be caused by fungi or other microorganisms. Infectious Endocarditis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical treatment. If left untreated, the infection can damage the heart valves. This can lead to problems including:

  • Brain stroke
  • Damage to other organs
  • Cardiac insufficiency
  • Death

This condition is rare in people with healthy hearts. People who have other heart conditions are at greater risk. You may need to take antibiotics before certain medical and dental procedures if you are at high risk for infective endocarditis .

Antibiotics help stop bacteria from entering your bloodstream and causing an infection . Talk to your surgeon or dentist before any surgical procedure.

Causes of Infectious Endocarditis: Infective endocarditis caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is more severe and more acute, while endocarditis caused by the family of bacteria Streptococcus and Enterococci is more subacute (longer picture) and has a lower mortality rate.

Symptoms of Infectious Endocarditis: Symptoms vary from person to person. In some people, symptoms appear suddenly, while others develop symptoms more slowly. Talk to your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed below. People at high risk of infective endocarditis should take special care.

Symptoms May Include: 

  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • blood in the urine
  • Goosebumps
  • sundating
  • red rash
  • White patches in the mouth or on the tongue
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Muscle aches and tenderness
  • abnormal urine color
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Sore throat
  • Sinus congestion and headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss

Infectious Endocarditis can be fatal if not treated promptly. Unfortunately, signs of Infectious Endocarditis can look like many other diseases. Talk to your doctor right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

Infectious Endocarditis Risk Factors: You may be at risk for this condition if you have:

  • Artificial heart valves;
  • Congenital heart disease;
  • Heart valve disease;
  • Damaged heart valves;
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy;
  • History of endocarditis;
  • History of use of illegal drugs;
  • Mitral valve prolapse and valve regurgitation (leakage) and/or thickened valve leaflets.

The risk of infective endocarditis is higher after procedures that allow the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. These include:

  • Dental procedures involving gums;
  • Insertion of catheters or needles;
  • Procedures to treat infections.

These procedures do not put most healthy people at risk. However, people who have one or more risk factors for infective endocarditis need to be extra careful. If you need one of these procedures, speak to your doctor first. You can use antibiotics before your visit.

Diagnoses of Infectious Endocarditis: When you visit your doctor, you will first be asked to describe your symptoms. Your doctor will then perform a physical exam. Your doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope and check for the sounds of a murmur, which may be present with Infectious Endocarditis . Your doctor may also check for a fever and feel an enlarged spleen by pressing on your upper left abdomen.

If your doctor suspects Infectious Endocarditis , your blood will be tested for bacteria . A complete blood count (CBC) can also be used to check for anemia. Lack of red blood cells can occur with Infectious Endocarditis .

Your doctor may order an echocardiogram or an ultrasound of the heart . This procedure uses sound waves to produce an image. The ultrasound wand can be placed on your chest. Alternatively, a smaller device can be threaded down the throat and into the esophagus. This can give you a more detailed picture. The echocardiogram looks for damaged tissue, holes, or other structural changes in the heart valve.

Infectious Endocarditis Treatments: Infectious Endocarditis can cause irreversible damage to the heart . If not caught and treated quickly, it can become fatal. You will need to be treated in a hospital to prevent the infection from getting worse and causing complications.

Antibiotics and Initial Treatment: While you are in the hospital, your vital signs will be monitored. You will receive antibiotics intravenously (IV). Once you go home, you will continue on oral or IV antibiotics for at least four weeks. During this period, you will continue to visit your doctor. Regular blood tests will verify that the infection is clearing up.

Surgery: Surgery may be necessary if your heart valves have been damaged. Your surgeon may recommend heart valve repair. The valve can also be replaced using a new valve made from animal tissue or artificial materials.

Surgery may also be necessary if antibiotics aren’t working or if the infection is fungal. Antifungal medications are not always effective for heart infections .

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