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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, for example 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 not only damages the heart valves and heart lining, but it can spread to other areas of the body and even cause a stroke.

Endocarditis is more common in people who have an artificial heart valve or pacemaker, and in those who had heart defects from birth that have been repaired with surgery.  Endocarditis also is more common in people whose immune systems are weak, those on dialysis and those who use injected drugs.

Treatment includes a long course of antibiotics. Some people require heart surgery to remove the infection and repair the damage.

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.

  • Last Edited 08/31/2017