• Endocarditis


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


    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
    Nuclus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of endocarditis include:


    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


    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 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


    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 http://www.heart.org

    Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association http://www.mouthhealthy.org


    Canadian Dental Association http://www.cda-adc.ca

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com


    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: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/TheImpactofCongenitalHeartDefects/Infective-Endocarditis%5FUCM%5F307108%5FArticle.jsp. Updated March 20, 2013. Accessed March 20, 2013.

    Infective endocarditis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 5, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2013.

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

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.