Bacterial Endocarditis

Also known as: infective endocarditis, IE

What is bacterial endocarditis?

When the inner lining of the heart (the endocardium) or the valves of the heart get infected by an organism (many bacteria - particularly Streptococci and Staphylococci;  but sometimes fungi) the condition is known as bacterial endocarditis. While it is uncommon in children, it is important to diagnose and treat early as it can cause significant complications and even death.

 

What causes bacterial endocarditis?

Risk factors include:

  • congenital cyanotic heart disease
  • abnormality of the valves
  • high blood flow in the heart from shunts
  • central venous catheters
  • intravenous drug use
  • intravascular catheters etc.

 

What are the signs/symptoms of bacterial endocarditis?

Features of bacterial endocarditis are due to the local invasion of the heart/valves, the formation of infected blood clots on the heart/valve lining, spread of infected blood clots to all parts of the body (septic emboli), issues wherever the emboli land in the peripheral arteries, and the formation of immune complexes by the body (which can make the problem worse) as it tries to manage the infection/clot/organisms.


It can present with an acute toxic fever with fatigue, chills, sweats, loss of appetite aching joints and muscles, headache, confusion, heart complications (murmur, shortness of breath etc.), kidney, bone, skin, brain and liver and spleen disorders, a persistent cough, swelling and a variety of other symptoms.

 

What are bacterial endocarditis care options?

Prolonged, high doses of bactericidal antibiotics given intravenously in the hospital for 4-8 weeks may be required to eradicate the organism. If the heart valves, or other parts of the heart become progressively damaged, or with worsening cardiac failure and/or other surgical indications appear, surgical intervention may be necessary.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD

This page was last updated on: 8/24/2017 3:00:19 PM

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