Infective endocarditis is defined as infection of the heart valves. It arises if infection from other parts of the body move into the bloodstream and attack the heart lining or heart valves.
The cause of the infection is usually a bacteria or fungus. The condition can occur at any age but typically affects individuals older than 50 years of age. The common organisms responsible for the condition include staphylococcus aureus, candida and streptococcus viridians.
Infective endocarditis is uncommon but those who have certain heart ailments are at higher risk. Generally, a normal heart is resistant to infections but if there is a damaged site in the heart, it provides a surface for microorganisms to attach and propagate.
Some of the risk factors might include:
- Tooth extraction or oral surgery
- Abdominal or genitourinary surgery
- Presence of intravascular catheters
- Diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy, upper GI endoscopy and barium enema
- Artificial heart valve
- Age-related deterioration of the heart valves
- Congenital heart diseases
- History of endocarditis
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Intravenous drug abuse
- Poorly-controlled diabetes
- HIV and AIDS
- Prolonged corticosteroid therapy
What are the indications?
The indications of infective endocarditis are not always serious, but can be mild in most cases. The symptoms might steadily develop over time which leads to a delayed diagnosis. Nevertheless, it involves a sudden onset of severe symptoms.
The usual signs linked with infective endocarditis might include:
- Low-grade fever
- Fatigue and malaise
- Night sweating
- Appetite loss or weight loss
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
- Heart arrhythmias
- Stomach issues such as abdominal pain and nausea and/or vomiting
- Enlarged spleen
Infective endocarditis requires early and proper treatment in a healthcare facility.
- Intravenous antibiotics for bacterial cases
- In some cases, surgery is performed for cases that do not respond to antibiotics.
- If fungus is the cause, antifungal drugs are given by the doctor.
- Surgery might be carried out to get rid of the infected region in the heart or fix any irregularities in the heart valves.