An infection that enters the bloodstream and settles in the heart lining, the heart valve or the blood vessel-Infective Endocarditis

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Infective endocarditis is an infection that enters the bloodstream and settles in the heart lining, the heart valve or the blood vessel. It is an uncommon disease condition usually caused by bacteria which can emanate from the mouth, skin, intestines, urinary tract and the respiratory system. It could also be caused by some micro organisms or fungi.


Infective endocarditis is a serious condition that must be promptly given medical treatment. However, the infection can damage the heart valves leading to severe health problems ranging from organs damage, stroke, and heart failure to eventual loss of life if left untreated.


It is important to emphasize that there are variation in symptoms from one person to the other. While some experience sudden symptoms, others people have the symptoms manifesting gradually. However, there is need to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms: chest pain, high fever, presence of blood in the urine, chills and sweating, reddish skin rash, weakness or fatigue, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, cough, sinus congestion and headache as well as loss of weight in addition to nausea and vomiting.


Vulnerable group
The following are some of the risk factors to developing infective endocarditis:
Artificial heart valves
Previous experience of endocarditis
Congenital heart disease
Heart valve disease
Damaged heart valves
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Record of illegal drug use
The risk of infective endocarditis is higher in conditions that allow bacteria access to the bloodstream. These include dental procedures involving the gums, insertion of catheters or needles and procedures to treat infections.

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The will be informed of the best way to diagnose the condition following the description of your symptoms. This will be followed by a physical examination where the heart will be examined with a stethoscope to check for sounds of a murmur, which may be present with infective endocarditis.
A complete blood count (CBC) may be requested to check for anemia. An echocardiogram or an ultrasound of the heart to check for sound waves to produce an image to look for damaged tissues, holes or structural defects.
An electrocardiogram (EKG) which is used to monitor electrical activity in the heart may be required to find an irregular heartbeat caused by endocarditis.
Imaging tests like chest X-ray, Ct scan and MRI may also be required to check for an enlarged heart.


Infective endocarditis is a serious health concern which is capable of causing irreversible damage to the heart and life threatening.
One of the treatment options available for managing infective endocarditis is the use of antibiotics which will be given intravenously and prompt monitoring of the vital signs while on admission in the hospital. Following discharge from the hospital, there is need to continue the course of treatment with oral or IV antibiotics for at least a month. Regular blood tests will be needed to check if the infection has been completed treated.
The other treatment option for infective endocarditis is surgical intervention which may be needed in cases of damaged heart valves. The heart valves may be repaired or replaced depending on the condition of the damaged valves. Surgery may also be required if the infection is caused by a fungi.
On a final note, most people do respond positively to antibiotic treatment though it is dependent on factors like age and the cause of the infection. Patients who receive treatment in earnest have a better chance of making a full recovery. It is however dangerous not to treat infective endocarditis as it may eventually lead to death.

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