About the disease
Endocarditis is an inflammation of endocardium. Endocardium is an inner lining of the heart. The most common cause of endocarditis is a bacterial infection. In most cases, endocarditis develops over some period of time and the onset of this condition is rarely sudden. In most cases, the symptoms of endocarditis tend to gradually develop and worsen over time, if left untreated. The most common manifestation of endocarditis are symptoms similar to flu.
Endocarditis develops if there is accumulation of germs. In most cases bacteria is taken during eating or drinking. These bacteria can enter the body also through the cut or during brushing the teeth. Generally, people with good immune system and healthy heart do not develop endocarditis. The immune system is able to fight bacteria before it enter the bloodstream. Bacteria enter the bloodstream and then enter the heart leading to inflammation of the endocardium.
People who have problems with heart valves or who have scarring of the heart valve are more likely to develop endocarditis. This condition can appear at any age. Congenital heart defect or acquired heart defect can contribute to development of endocarditis in future.
- Pain in the muscles
- Pain in the joints
- Red spots on fingers due to problems with blood vessels in rare cases
- Weight loss
- During a general examination, a doctor will listen to the chest and heart of a person, ask about previous heart diseases if there were any and will also inquire if a person had any infections lately.
- A blood test is used to determine the type of bacteria or fungi causing the symptoms.
- An echocardiogram is used to examine the endocardium and heart valves more closely and determine if there is indeed inflammation or if the symptoms are caused by some other condition.
- An X-ray of the chest is used to examine the heart and the lungs and rule out the possibility that similar symptoms could be caused by problems with the lungs.
- Conservative treatment uses antibiotics if endocarditis was caused by bacterial infection. In most cases antibiotics need to be taken for a period of 6 weeks to completely remove bacteria and harmful germs from the heart and the blood stream. This time is enough to treat the inflammation.
- Drainage is in some cases used if there is a buildup of fluid in the heart which needs to be removed.