Endocarditis is the inflammation of the inner lining (endocardium) of the heart, which can affect the heart valves and other structures. Infective endocarditis is caused by bacteria or other pathogens entering the bloodstream either through injury to the skin or lining of the mouth or gums. Noninfective endocarditis is inflammation in the absence of a pathogen. Although uncommon, people with heart valve birth defects or those who have undergone heart valve surgery are at increased risk of developing endocarditis.
Symptoms of Endocarditis
Symptoms of endocarditis depend on whether it develops suddenly (acute) or gradually (subacute).
- Fever and chills
- Night sweats
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
- Shortness of breath
- Skin changes, such as small red spots on hands and feet or bleeding under the nails
- Weight loss
- Heart murmur
- Swelling in legs, feet or abdomen
- Blood in urine
Treating endocarditis depends on the damage it has done to the heart’s valves, but most cases can be treated with antibiotics for up to six weeks. More advanced cases may require surgery.