Infective endocarditis is an infection of the valves or lining of the heart.

What is infective endocarditis?

Infective endocarditis is an infection of the valves or lining of the heart. It happens when bacteria, fungi or other germs get into your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.

If not treated quickly, infective endocarditis can damage or destroy your heart valves and lead to life-threatening complications.

What are the symptoms of infective endocarditis?

Symptoms of infective endocarditis include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Paleness
  • Persistent cough
  • Swelling in the feet, legs or abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in urine
  • A new heart murmur
  • Tenderness in the spleen

What are the causes of infective endocarditis?

Infective endocarditis is caused by bacteria, fungi or other germs entering your bloodstream and building up on a valve or in the lining of the heart where damage may have occurred.

Bacteria, fungi or other germs can enter through your bloodstream through an infection, catheters, tattoo needles and piercings, contaminated needles, poor oral care or dental procedures.

How is infective endocarditis diagnosed?

Your doctor will review your medical history and may order the following tests:

What treatment is available for infective endocaditis? 

Your doctor will treat your infective endocarditis with long-term courses of intravenous antibiotics.

For more severe cases, heart valve replacement may be needed if your heart is not pumping effectively or if the infection is not responding to the antibiotics.

Resources

The following resources have information about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for infective endocarditis: