Did you know that the walls of your heart are made up of three layers? The outer layer is called the epicardium, the middle layer is the myocardium, and the innermost layer is the endocardium. Inflammation of this innermost layer and of your heart valves is called endocarditis. Endocarditis is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria enter your bloodstream from another part of your body and attach to damaged areas in your heart. Because of this, you are more likely to develop endocarditis if you already have a damaged or artificial heart valve.
Some things that will increase your risk of developing endocarditis include: having had endocarditis in the past, previous surgery on your heart valves, recent dental surgery, or using intravenous drugs. Early symptoms of endocarditis may make you feel tired or feverish like you have the flu. Other symptoms include chills and sweating, feeling short of breath, and having pain in your joints. You may also notice red spots under your skin. It is important to report any symptoms to your doctor, as untreated endocarditis can lead to serious health problems like heart failure or stroke.
Treatment for endocarditis will usually include long-term antibiotic therapy. Use this condition center to learn more about endocarditis. You can keep up with the latest research, find questions to ask your doctor, and get tips to help you feel your best.