Endocarditis

An Overview

Endocarditis, also called ineffective endocarditis, is an infection and inflammation of the heart valves and the inner lining of the heart chambers, which is called the endocardium. Endocarditis occurs when infectious organisms, such as bacteria or fungi, enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart. In most cases, these organisms are streptococci(“strep”), staphylococci (“staph”) or species of bacteria that normally live on body surfaces. Endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium, which is the inner lining of your heart chambers and heart valves. Endocarditis generally occurs when bacteria, fungi or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.

Since there are many ways to develop endocarditis, your doctor might not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your condition. However, people at greatest risk of endocarditis usually have damaged heart valves, artificial heart valves or other heart defects.

Symptoms for Endocarditis

Endocarditis may develop slowly or suddenly, depending on what germs are causing the infection and whether you have any underlying heart problems. Endocarditis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person.

Common signs and symptoms of endocarditis include:

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills
  • High Temarature
  • A new or changed heart murmur, which is the heart sounds made by blood rushing through your heart
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue
  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Small red or purple spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Painless red spots on the palms and soles
  • Chest pain when you breathe
  • Swelling in your feet, legs or abdomen
  • Confusion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Melaise
  • Blood in your urine, which you might be able to see or that your doctor might see when he or she views your urine under a microscope
  • Tenderness in your spleen, which is an infection-fighting abdominal organ just below your rib cage on the left side of your body
  • Janeway lesions, which are red spots on the soles of your feet or the palms of your hands.
  • Skin Petechiae
  • Osler’s nodes, which are red, tender spots under the skin of your fingers or toes
  • Weakness
  • Catechize, which are tiny purple or red spots on the skin, whites of your eyes, or inside your mouth.

Causes of Endocarditis

Your heart is usually well protected against infection so bacteria can pass harmlessly by. But if your heart valves are damaged or you have an artificial valve, it’s easier for bacteria to take root and bypass your normal immune response to infection.

  • Everyday oral activities. Activities such as brushing your teeth, or other activities that could cause your gums to bleed, can allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream especially if you don’t floss or your teeth and gums aren’t healthy.
  • Fungal endocarditic. Endocarditic caused by a fungal infection is rarer than bacterial endocarditis, and usually more serious.
  • Have a central venous catheter. A tube connected to a vein in the neck, groin or chest, which is used to deliver medicines or fluids to people who are seriously ill.
  • Infection. Bacteria can spread from the site of a pre-existing infection, such as a skin infection or agum infection.
  • An infection or other medical condition.Bacteria may spread from an infected area, such as a skin sore. Other medical conditions, such as gum disease, a sexually transmitted infection or certain intestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease — can also give bacteria the opportunity to enter your bloodstream.
  • Needles and tubes. Any medical procedure that involves placing a medical instrument inside the body carries a small associated risk of introducing bacteria into your bloodstream. Instruments that have been linked to endocarditis include: syringes, urinary catheters – a tube used to drain the bladder.
  • Bacteria can enter your body through a catheter a thin tube that doctors sometimes use to inject or remove fluid from the body. This is more likely to occur if the catheter is in place for a long period of time.
  • Tattoos and body piercing.The bacteria that can cause endocarditic can also enter your bloodstream through the needles used for tattooing or body piercing.
  • Intravenous (IV) illegal drug use.Contaminated needles and syringes are a special concern for people who use illegal intravenous (IV) drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. Often, individuals who use these types of drugs don’t have access to clean, unused needles or syringes.
  • Laparoscope a small, flexible tube with a light source and a camera at 1 end, used in keyhole surgery
  • Certain dental procedures.Some dental procedures that can cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
  • High blood pressure without treatment, high blood pressure (hypertension) can weaken the tissue around the valves.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  The heart muscle cells have enlarged and the walls of the heart chambers thicken.
  • Have a weakened immune system – either as a result of a health condition affecting the immune system, such as HIV or as a side effect of certain types of treatments, such as Chemotherapy.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may suspect endocarditis based on your medical history, signs and symptoms you’re experiencing, and your test results.

  • Blood tests.A blood culture test is used to identify any bacteria or fungi in your bloodstream, and it’s the most important test your doctor will perform. Blood tests can also help your doctor identify certain conditions that can be a sign of endocarditis, such as anemia — a shortage of healthy red blood cells.
  • An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart while it’s beating. This test is often used to check for signs of infection. Your doctor may use two different types of echocardiograms to help diagnose endocarditis.
  • Chest X-ray.X-ray images help your doctor see the condition of your lungs and heart. Your doctor can use X-ray images to see if endocarditis has caused your heart to enlarge or if any infection has spread to your lung.

Treatment

Many cases of endocarditis are successfully treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, surgery may be required to fix damaged heart valves and clean up any remaining signs of the infection.

Antibiotics

If you have endocarditis, your doctor might recommend high doses of intravenous (IV) antibiotics in the hospital. Your doctor will use blood culture tests to help identify the organism that’s causing your infection.

Surgery

If the infection damages your heart valves, you may have symptoms and complications for years after treatment. Sometimes surgery is needed to treat persistent infections or to replace a damaged valve. Surgery is also sometimes needed to treat endocarditis that’s caused by a fungal infection

Hope this Symptoms and cure article will be helpful to all. Do not forget to share your valuable suggestions if any.

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