Endocarditis - Treatment Overview
There are three main goals for
- Quickly destroy the
- Repair or replace a heart valve, if
- Treat complications.
Destroy the infection
If you have endocarditis, you will need several weeks of treatment with
one or more antibiotics. At first you will be treated in the hospital, because
the antibiotics are given through a vein (by IV) and you
may need other tests during treatment. After your fever is gone and you are
stable, you may be able to continue IV antibiotics at home with the help of a
home health nurse.
Antibiotics are usually given for 4 to 8
weeks. But some people may require only 2 to 4 weeks of treatment. How long you
take antibiotics may depend on what type of bacteria is causing the infection
or whether you have an infection of artificial heart valves. For example, you
may take antibiotics for a longer time because you have artificial heart
valves. The antibiotics must be given long enough and at a strong enough dose
to destroy all of the bacteria.
After the first IV antibiotics,
your doctor may want you to take antibiotic pills. If so, take them exactly as
prescribed until they are gone. If your symptoms return, call your doctor right
away. You probably will need more antibiotics if testing shows that the
bacteria were not completely destroyed.
If endocarditis is caused
by a fungus, you may need intravenous antifungal medicine. And heart valve
surgery usually is required for endocarditis caused by a fungus.
If your heart valve becomes
severely damaged from
endocarditis or if infection develops in an artificial
heart valve, you may need surgery to repair or replace the valve.
You may need surgery if you have:
- Heart failure.
- A fungal infection.
abscess in your
- Damage to the electrical system of your
- Infected tissue that repeatedly breaks off the valve and
travels to other parts of your body (for example, lungs, brain, or
Your medical team
Treatment for endocarditis is usually guided by an
infectious disease specialist. A
cardiologist may also be involved if your heart muscle
or valves are damaged. You will need a
cardiovascular surgeon if you have heart valve