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  • Definition

    The endocardium is the inner lining of the heart muscle. Endocarditis is an infection of this lining and the heart valves.
  • Causes

    Causes of endocarditis include:
    • Bacterial infection —the most common cause
    • Viral or fungal infection
    • Medical conditions that result in blood clotting too easily, causing a noninfectious form
    Bacterial Endocarditis
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  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of endocarditis include:
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of endocarditis include:
    • Fever, chills
    • Weakness, low energy
    • Sweatiness, especially at night
    • Shortness of breath
    • Cough
    • Loss of appetite, weight loss
    • Chest pain
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Painful red bumps on the fingers and toes
    • Purple dots on the whites of the eyes, under the fingernails, and over the collarbone
    • Painful red patches on the fingers, palms, and soles
  • Diagnosis

    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 heart murmurs .
    Tests include:
  • Treatment

    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 heart failure
  • Prevention

    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 defects
    • Artificial heart valves
    • History of endocarditis
    • Heart transplant recipients who have developed valve disease
    Avoiding illicit IV drugs will also decrease your risk of infection.

    American Heart Association

    Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association


    Canadian Dental Association

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


    Braunwald E, Zipes DP, Libby P, et al. Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2001.

    Cecil RL, Goldman L, Bennett JC. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000.

    Conn HF, Rakel RE, et al. Conn's Current Therapy 2001: latest approved methods of treatment for the practicing physician. 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2001.

    Infective endocarditis. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated March 20, 2013. Accessed March 20, 2013.

    Infective endocarditis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated September 5, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2013.

    DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Wilson W, Taubert KA, et al. Prevention of infective endocarditis. Guidelines from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2007;116(15):1736-1754.

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