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Endocarditis - What All You Need to Know

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Endocarditis - What All You Need to Know

Cardiac Sciences | Posted on 02/02/2023 by



Understanding Endocarditis

Endocarditis is a rare cardiac condition causing inflammation of the heart lining, heart valves, and heart muscles. The condition is also referred to as infective endocarditis (IE), fungal endocarditis, infectious endocarditis, and bacterial endocarditis. The endocardium is an infection that causes endocarditis. Usually, the infection is caused by bacteria known as streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria. Fungi and other infectious microorganisms cause this condition.

According to a study, it is found that this condition is more common in men than women. The condition shouldn’t be left untreated as it can lead to permanent impairment eventually causing death. This blog will cover the basic understanding behind the condition and comprise everything you must know. However, it is only for informational purposes so make sure to consult the expert cardiologist to know more.

Who is at risk of growing endocarditis?

As per studies, it is found that people with weak immune systems are more prone to this condition. People who have heart conditions like cardiomyopathy, damaged heart valves, and narrowing of heart valves are also vulnerable to experiencing endocarditis.

Which bacteria causes endocarditis?

The primary cause behind endocarditis is Streptococcus infection. There are other causative agents and they are:

  • Coagulase-negative staphylococci
  • Streptococcus Bovis
  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Viridian streptococcus
  • Fungi
  • Enterococci

Other factors are there which cause endocarditis:

  • Addiction of drugs
  • The damaged and weak immune system
  • Abnormal heart valve because of valve replacement surgery
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Previous endocarditis infection
  • Heart defect by birth
  • Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia
  • An implanted device (Pacemaker)

What are the symptoms of endocarditis?

The most common endocarditis symptoms are:

  • Sweating
  • Flu
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Irregular heart rhythms and sound
  • Unhealed cuts
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath

How is bacterial endocarditis diagnosed?

The doctor will identify the symptoms first and the clinical history before initiating the tests. A stethoscope will be used so that the doctor can listen to the heart. Following are the tests usually ordered for endocarditis diagnosis:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram- It is a non-radiating imaging test that assists the doctor to view the patient’s heart and its valves. Ultrasound waves are used for creating the heart image. The doctor can identify the signs of impairment or unusual heart movements
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram- If the transthoracic echocardiogram doesn’t clear sufficient information to evaluate the heart appropriately, the doctor will order a Transesophageal echocardiogram
  • Blood tests- This test is ordered when the doctor suspects endocarditis. It will help in identifying the causes behind the conditions like microorganisms, fungi, or bacteria. Blood tests will also disclose if the symptoms are because of another condition like anaemia
  • Electrocardiogram-This test again is used to view the electrical activity of a heart. It helps in detecting unusual heart rhythms.
  • Chest X-ray- It is ordered to view the lungs and understand if there is any fluid built up or distorted. An X-ray will assist the doctor to comprehend the difference between endocarditis and other conditions linked to the lungs.

What are the options for endocarditis treatment?

The doctor begins the endocarditis treatment depending on the symptoms. Here is how the condition is treated often:

  • Antibiotics- Intravenous antibiotic therapy is recommended when the condition is caused by bacteria. Patients with this condition are given antibiotics and with regular blood tests, it is easier to monitor the effectiveness of medications. Antibiotic treatment is recommended for a week until the patient shows signs of improvement.
  • Surgery- For prolonged endocarditis or distorted heart valves caused by the condition require surgery for the treatment. With surgery, the doctor will remove a build-up of fluid, dead tissue, scar tissue, or debris from infected tissue. Surgery is also recommended for removing or repairing the damaged heart valve, and replacing it with animal tissue or material that is man-made.

How to prevent endocarditis treatment?

Undergoing frequent dental check-ups and maintaining oral hygiene helps in reducing the risk of building- up bacteria in the mouth and avert them from entering the bloodstream. By doing this simple step, it is easier to eliminate the risk of growing the condition from an infection. It is recommended to be mindful of the condition primarily if an individual has conditions like congenital heart disease, heart surgery, etc. One must also ensure to avoid:

  • Tattoos
  • Body piercings
  • Illegal use of drugs
  • An unsterile procedure that can allow germs to enter the blood

Conclusion

Untreated endocarditis is disastrous, but with on-time treatment, including the use of antibiotics, it can be treated. It is essential to be aware of the endocarditis symptoms. The best way to prevent the condition is taking care of oral hygiene as it benefits in reducing the endocarditis risk. If you experience the signs of endocarditis, ensure to consult the healthcare professional immediately.

FAQs

Is endocarditis curable without surgery?

Yes, this condition can be cured successfully with the use of antibiotics. This treatment is effective for most people. However, in some cases, surgery is needed to replace the damaged heart valves and eliminate the infection signs.

How fast does endocarditis grow?

Endocarditis is a condition that develops gradually and might take a few months or a period of weeks.