Understanding Bacterial Endocarditis

The endocardium is the membrane that covers the inner wall of the heart’s four chamber and valves. Bacterial Endocarditis occurs when bacteria lodge in the endocardium and begin to grow.

The symptoms of Endocarditis are:

  • fever,
  • night sweats, chills, heart murmur,
  • Ioss of appetite
  • and joint pain.

People most likely to get bacterial endocarditis include those with a history of:

  • heart surgery,
  • rheumatic fever,
  • congenital heart malformation
  • or an artificial heart valve.

Even a mild heart condition that causes no symptoms, such as mitral valve prolapse, can place a person at risk for bacterial endocarditis. Such people should be given antibiotics before dental work or surgery, or during a skin or lung infection, all of which increase the risk of endocarditis. People with these risk factors should also know that they increase their risk of getting endocarditis if they are drug users who share needles.

Bacterial endocarditis is a serious disease that is fatal if not treated with antibiotics. Even with treatment, permanent heart damage can result. If you are at risk for bacterial endocarditis, alert your healthcare provider before having surgery or dental work. Your dentist will prescribe antibiotics before and after dental work. Practice daily oral hygiene and get regular dental checkups.

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