What is endocarditis?
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
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What causes endocarditis?
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 and surgical 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.
What increases the risk for endocarditis?
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. This puts you at a
higher risk for endocarditis.
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:
What can you do if you are at risk for endocarditis?
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.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of
endocarditis progress as the bacteria or fungi grow in your heart. Vague,
flu-like symptoms, such as a low-grade fever and fatigue, often occur first.
Most people with endocarditis begin to have symptoms within 2 weeks after
becoming infected with bacteria or fungi.