an infection of the heart's valves or its inner lining (endocardium). It is
most common in people who have a damaged, diseased, or artificial heart
Endocarditis is caused by bacteria (or, in rare cases, by fungi) that enter the bloodstream and settle on the inside of the heart, usually on the heart valves. Bacteria can invade your bloodstream in many ways, including during some dental, surgical, and medical procedures. If you don't take care of your teeth, having your teeth cleaned or even brushing your teeth can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
See a picture of
have a normal heart, you have a low risk for endocarditis. But if
you have a problem with your heart that affects normal blood flow through the heart , it is more
likely that bacteria or fungi will attach to heart tissue. Some health care procedures or implanted devices may raise your risk for endocarditis. This is because they can let bacteria or fungi enter your bloodstream.
You have a higher risk of endocarditis if you have:
Not all heart problems give you a higher risk of endocarditis. You do not have a higher risk
if you have:
- Coronary artery
bypass graft surgery (bypass surgery).
- Previous rheumatic
fever without heart valve damage.
- A heart attack without other complications.
- Mitral valve prolapse without mitral valve regurgitation or unusually thickened valve leaflets.
- A coronary artery
If you have certain heart conditions, getting endocarditis is even more
dangerous for you. These heart conditions include:
If you have any of these heart conditions, you may need
to take antibiotics before you have certain dental and surgical procedures. The
antibiotics lower your risk of getting endocarditis. If you do not have these conditions, antibiotics are not likely to help you.
Procedures that may require antibiotics include:
- Certain dental work or dental surgery.
- Surgery on infected skin, bone, or muscle
- Certain medical procedures, such as a
Practicing good oral hygiene is especially important to
prevent endocarditis if you are at risk.
Your doctor can give you
a card to carry in your wallet. The card states that you may need preventive
antibiotics before certain procedures.