What is endocarditis?
Endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner wall of your heart, referred to as endocarditis. The disease is usually caused by bacteria. When inflammation occurs from infection, the disease is referred to as infectious endocarditis. Endocarditis is not common in people who have a good or healthy heart.(1)
Symptoms of endocarditis?
The symptoms of endocarditis are not always serious, and can develop progressively over time. When endocarditis begins, the symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. As a result, many people are not diagnosed.
A lot of the symptoms are the same as influenza and other infections, like pneumonia. But some people experience serious symptoms that suddenly appear. Such symptoms may be due to inflammation or damage.(2)
Commonly seen symptoms of endocarditis include:
- heart murmur, abnormal cardiac sound caused by a turbulent blood stream in the heart.
- pale skin
- fever or chills
- night sweats
- muscle or joint pain
- nausea or reduced appetite
- A feeling of fullness in the top left part of your abdomen.
- swollen feet, legs, or abdomen
- cough or dyspnea
Less commonly occurring symptoms of endocarditis include:
There may also be changes to the skin, such as:
- Red or purple spots are visible under the skin of the fingertips or toes.
- the tiny red or violet patches in the blood cells that have come out of the broken capillary vessels, which appear in general on the sclera of the eyes, inside the cheeks, on the roof of the mouth or on the chest.
Signs and symptoms of infectious endocarditis are highly variable from one person to another. They may change over time, depending on the cause of the infection, heart health, and the duration of the infection. If you have a history of heart disease, cardiac surgery or prior endocarditis, You should consult your physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. It is especially important to communicate with your doctor if you have a constant fever that does not decrease or if you have unusual fatigue and do not know why.
Causes of endocarditis?
The primary cause of endocarditis is excessive bacterial overgrowth. Though these bacteria usually live on the inner or outer surfaces of your body, They may enter your blood with food or drink. Bacteria can also penetrate through cuts or injuries in the skin or mouth cavity. Your immune system usually fights germs before they cause symptoms, but that process does not work for some people.
If you have infectious endocarditis, the germs circulate in your bloodstream and in your heart, where they grow up in numbers, causing inflammation. Endocarditis may also be caused by fungi and other bacteria.
Food and drink are not the only means that pathogens can get into your body. They may also enter your blood circulation via:
- brushing teeth
- poor oral health and gum disease.
- have a dental procedure to cut off your gums.
- To develop a sexually transmitted disease.
- with the help of a contaminated syringe.
Risk factors for endocarditis
Some risk factors for endocarditis include:
- illegal injection of IV drugs with a needle infected with germs.
- scarring caused by damage to the heart valve, allowing bacteria and other pathogens to grow.
- tissue injury caused by endocarditis in the past.
- have a cardiac defect.
- artificially replacing the heart valve.
How is endocarditis diagnosed?
Your doctor will verify your symptoms and medical history before you are examined. Upon completion of this examination, they will listen to the sound of your heart using a stethoscope. You can also complete the following tests:
If your health care provider suspects you have endocarditis, a blood culture test will be conducted to verify that bacteria, fungi or other microbes are responsible. Other blood tests may also indicate whether your symptoms are due to some other condition, such as anemia.
A transthoracic echocardiogram is a radiation-free imaging test conducted to see your heart and its valves. This test uses ultrasonic waves to generate an image of your heart, with an imaging probe in front of your chest. Your doctor may use this imaging test to check for signs of abnormal lesions or motion in your heart.
If a transthoracic echocardiogram fails to provide enough information to properly assess your heart, your doctor may conduct another imaging test called transoesophageal echocardiogram. This is a way of seeing your heart through your esophagus.
An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) can be ordered for a better look at your heart’s electrical activity. This test allows the determination of an abnormal heart rate. A technician will attach twelve to fifteen flexible electrodes to your skin. These electrodes are connected to electrical wires (wires), which are subsequently connected to the ECG machine.
Pulmonary collapse or other lung problems may cause some of these symptoms, such as endocarditis. A chest x-ray can be taken to see your lungs and see if they have collapsed or if fluid has formed within them. An accumulation of fluid is called lung oedema. Radiographic imaging can help your doctor determine the difference between endocarditis and other diseases related to your lungs.
What is the treatment for endocarditis?
If you have endocarditis due to bacteria, The patient will be treated with intravenous antibiotic treatment. Your doctor may recommend taking antibiotics until your infection and associated inflammation are successfully treated. You will probably get them in a hospital for at least a week, until you show signs of improving.
You will be required to continue taking antibiotics when you leave the hospital. You may be able to move to oral antibiotics later in your therapy. Antibiotic treatment typically takes up to 6 weeks.
Long-lasting infectious endocarditis or damaged cardiac valves caused by endocarditis may require surgery to heal. A surgical procedure can be performed to remove any dead tissue, scar tissue, fluid build-up, or debris from infected tissues.
The operation can also be performed to repair or remove your damaged heart valve, to replace it with artificial or animal tissue.
Complications associated with endocarditis?
There may be issues due to damage caused by your infection. The heart rate can be abnormal, such as atrial fibrillation, blood clots, other organ damage and hyperbilirubinemia with jaundice. Infected blood may also result in embolism, or clots, going through other parts of your body.
Other organs which may be involved include:
- kidneys, which can cause inflammation, leading to a disease called glomerulonephritis.
- bones, above all your spine, which can become infected, leading to osteomyelitis.
Bacteria or fungi may travel through your heart and affect these areas. They may also cause abscesses in your organs or other parts of your body.
Brain injuries and heart failure are other serious complications of endocarditis.
How can endocarditis be prevented?
Maintaining good oral health and regular dental appointments can help reduce the risk of bacterial growth in the mouth and blood circulation. This decreases your risk of developing endocarditis as a result of an infection or oral injury. If you have had oral treatment followed by antibiotics, be sure to take the antibiotics prescribed.
If you have a history of congenital heart failure, cardiac surgery or endocarditis, Be careful to monitor the signs and symptoms of endocarditis. special attention and care is needed in cases of persistent fever and unexplained tiredness. Check with your physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
The following should also be avoided:
- body piercings
- IV medication use
- any procedure that could result in germs entering your bloodstream.