The endocardium is the inner lining of the heart muscle. Endocarditis is an infection of this lining and the heart valves.
Causes of endocarditis include: Bacterial infection
—the most common cause
Viral or fungal infectionMedical conditions that result in blood clotting too easily, causing a noninfectious form
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Symptoms of endocarditis include: Fever, chillsWeakness, low energySweatiness, especially at nightShortness of breathCoughLoss of appetite, weight lossChest painAbdominal painNausea and vomitingPainful red bumps on the fingers and toesPurple dots on the whites of the eyes, under the fingernails, and over the collarbonePainful red patches on the fingers, palms, and soles
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
Tests include: Blood testsEchocardiogram
Treatment may include: Antibiotics—given by IV for up to 4-8 weeks
Surgery—to repair or replace the valve if it is severely damaged or has caused
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 defectsArtificial heart valvesHistory of endocarditisHeart transplant
recipients who have developed valve disease
Avoiding illicit IV drugs will also decrease your risk of infection.
Infective endocarditis. American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/TheImpactofCongenitalHeartDefects/Infective-Endocarditis_UCM_307108_Article.jsp. Updated March 20, 2013. Accessed March 20, 2013.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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