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Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. It is typically caused by bacteria (or in rare cases fungi) from other parts of your body, such as your mouth or skin. These bacteria travel through the bloodstream and can attach to the inner surface of the heart where an infection can grow. If left untreated, the infection can damage the heart valves and heart lining, spread to other areas of the body, and even cause a stroke.

Endocarditis is more common in people who have an abnormal heart valve, artificial heart valve, a pacemaker or heart defects from birth. It's also more common in people whose immune systems are weak, those on dialysis and those who use injected drugs.

Treatment typically includes a long course of antibiotics. Some people may require heart surgery to remove the infection and repair the damage, including valve replacement.

Individuals who have had endocarditis once are more likely to have it a second time. Also, they may need antibiotics before having dental treatments and other medical procedures to lower the risk of infection and getting endocarditis.


Endocarditis is caused by bacteria in the bloodstream that leads to infection and injury of a heart valve. Bacteria may enter the bloodstream due to infections in the skin, mouth, lungs or urinary tract, as well as after certain procedures. Illicit intravenous drug use also is a source for bacteria.

Endocarditis may develop if enough bacteria attach to heart valves or other devices in the heart, such as pacemaker wires.

  • Last Edited 05/21/2024