Endocarditis is inflammation of the inside lining of the heart chambers and valves. Risk factors for developing endocarditis include:
Injection drug use
Permanent central venous access lines
Prior valve surgery
Recent dental surgery
Bacterial infection is the most common source of endocarditis. However, it can also be caused by fungi. In some cases, no cause can be identified.
Signs & Symptoms
Abnormal urine color or blood in the urine
Chills or excessive sweating
Fever and/or night sweats
Joint pain, muscle aches and pains
Nail abnormalities (splinter hemorrhages under the nails)
Red, painless skin spots on the palms and soles (Janeway lesions) and/or red, painful nodes in the pads of the fingers and toes (Osler's nodes)
Shortness of breath with activity
Swelling of feet, legs, abdomen
People with endocarditis will often need to be hospitalized at first to receive intravenous antibiotics, as the majority of cases are caused by bacterial infection. Long-term antibiotic therapy (6 weeks) is needed to get the bacteria out of the heart chambers and valves. The antibiotic must be specific for the organism causing the condition. This is determined by the blood culture and the sensitivity tests. Surgery to replace the heart valve is usually needed when: the infection is breaking off in little pieces, resulting in a series of strokes; the person develops heart failure as a result of damaged heart valves; there is evidence of organ damage. Early treatment of endocarditis improves the chances of a good outcome. However, valve destruction or strokes can result in death.
Source: "Endocarditis." Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia.