What is endocarditis

Endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart muscle, the endocardium, which can spread to involve the heart valves. It most often occurs in people who have a damaged or implanted artificial valve in their heart.

What are the symptoms of endocarditis

  • Chills and high fever;
  • Fatigue;
  • Loss of body mass;
  • Night sweats;
  • Joint pain;
  • Persistent cough and shortness of breath;
  • Bleeding under the nails;
  • Small purple or red spots under the nails.

Even if the symptoms are unclear and do not go away, consult your doctor. Because if left untreated, the bacteria that cause endocarditis can colonize on or around the heart valves. Bacterial growth prevents the valves from opening and closing properly.

This interrupts the normal flow of blood through the valves and makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. Blood can back up instead of being pumped forward.

Over time, heart failure can develop because the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the needs of all the body’s organs and tissues.

Endocarditis can also cause other health problems:

  • Disturbance of the usual heart rhythm;
  • Stroke;
  • Kidney failure;

What are the causes of the disease

Endocarditis is caused by bacteria and, in rare cases, by fungi, which invade the circulatory system and attach to the lining of the heart – the endocardium, usually in the area of ​​the heart valves.

Bacteria can enter the bloodstream in many different ways, including during certain dental procedures and surgical procedures. If we don’t take care of our teeth and don’t clean them too, bacteria can easily enter the bloodstream.

What increases the risk of endocarditis

If you have normal heart function, the risk of endocarditis is low.

Your risk increases if:

  • You have had endocarditis in the past;
  • You are currently on hemodialysis due to kidney failure;
  • Your heart valves are damaged or not functioning properly;
  • You have had an artificial heart valve fitted;
  • You have a congenital heart defect;
  • You have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy;
  • You have acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS);

What you can do if you are at increased risk of developing endocarditis

If you have any of the following heart diseases and conditions, developing endocarditis can be very dangerous for you:

  • Artificial heart valves;
  • Past endocarditis;
  • Congenital heart defects;
  • Misfunctioning heart valve after a heart transplant;

In the presence of these diseases and conditions, antibiotics are required, before certain dental or surgical procedures. Antibiotics lower the risk of developing endocarditis.

Procedures that require antibiotics before they are performed are:

  • Dental surgery and when opening a tooth to treat caries or pulpitis;
  • Pulmonary surgery;
  • Surgical removal of infected skin, bone or tissue;
  • Some medical procedures such as biopsy;

The maintenance of good oral hygiene is very important if you are at risk of endocarditis.

Endocarditis Treatment

Endocarditis is a serious disease that affects the inner lining of the heart valves and the inner walls of the heart.

This condition can be life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. In this text, we will take a closer look at how endocarditis is treated and what measures can be taken to deal with it.

Treatment for endocarditis begins with a thorough medical examination that includes blood tests and bacterial cultures to determine the exact pathogen causing the infection.

This is essential because the choice of antibiotic is based on the type of microorganism that caused the endocarditis. The doctor will choose the appropriate antibiotic or combination of antibiotics to be given intravenously.

This way of delivering the drugs is necessary to achieve a high enough concentration of the antibiotic in the blood to kill the infection.

Duration of antibiotic therapy may vary depending on the severity of endocarditis and the type of causative pathogen. Antibiotic treatment usually lasts for at least 4-6 weeks, but in some cases it may take longer.

It is important to take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed by the doctor and to finish the entire course of treatment, even if the symptoms disappear before then. Discontinuation of treatment before time may lead to recurrence of the infection.

In some cases, endocarditis can lead to serious damage to the heart valves. If the heart valves are severely damaged and cannot function normally after the infection, surgery may be required.

This surgery corrects or replaces damaged valves with artificial or tissue valves. It is a complex surgical procedure that requires a specialized team of surgeons and anesthetists.

The doctor will decide on the surgical intervention when he thinks it is necessary to improve the function of the heart and to prevent future complications.

In the case of fungal endocarditis, treatment can be even more complicated because fungal infections require specific antifungal drugs.

These drugs are used specifically to treat fungal infections and are chosen based on the types of fungi identified through laboratory tests.

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