Infective endocarditis is an infection of the inner membrane lining in your heart chambers and valves. Bacteria is most often the cause of this heart inflammation, but fungi or other microorganisms can also be a culprit.
Bacterial infective endocarditis happens when bacteria germs, traveling in your bloodstream, attach to damaged areas of your heart. For this reason, it is less likely to occur in healthy hearts.
Endocarditis may develop slowly or all of a sudden, causing you heart inflammation symptoms like:
- joint pain
- night sweats
- heart murmur
- muscle aches
- persistent cough
- feet, leg swelling
- spleen tenderness
- shortness of breath
- abnormal urine color
- unexplained weight loss
- bleeding under fingernails ~ causing red lines
- tender spots under the skin of the fingers ~ Osler’s nodes
Some routes for bacteria causing infective endocarditis to can gain entry into your bloodstream are:
- bleeding gums
- infected skin sore
- contaminated needles, syringes
- certain dental, medical procedures
Heart inflammation endocarditis is a serious condition causing some possible formidable complications, such as:
- rapid pulse
- blood clots
- heart failure
- kidney failure
- atrial fibrillation
- neurological issues
- irregular heartbeats
Early treatment of endocarditis improves your positive outcome chances. If left untreated, it is usually fatal.
If you have bacterial infective endocarditis, your probable treatment is high doses of intravenous antibiotics. If the infection causes heart valve damage, you may have symptoms and complications for years beyond treatment.
And surgery is sometimes required to treat persistent infections or replace damaged valves.
Highest risk categories for bacterial infective endocarditis are:
- IV tubes
- IV drug users
- history of endocarditis
- congenital heart defects
- artificial, damaged heart valves
Having a heart murmur might also increase your odds.
If you fall into any of the high risk categories for endocarditis, inform your health care professional. Also, pay special attention to your dental and skin health. Lessens the opportunity for a bacterial break-in.