Endocarditis is an infection of a heart valve. This usually occurs when bacteria in the blood attaches to a heart valve. Endocarditis can develop any time bacteria enter the blood, such as from dental cavities or from drug use. Valves that have a structural abnormality are more at risk for infection, but even normal valves can become infected.
Patients with endocarditis may report fever, chills, or they may have signs of the infection separating from the heart valve and traveling to other parts of the body. This can present as a stroke, abscess, or kidney problems.
Endocarditis that is not treated can lead to destruction of the heart valve formation of an abscess in the heart, and abnormal heart rhythms. This can be a life-threatening condition, and needs to be treated promptly.
The diagnosis of endocarditis is made with echocardiogram to identify a vegetation, and blood tests which shows bacteria in the blood. The initial treatment of endocarditis is with antibiotics, but in some cases, surgery will be required to repair or replace the infected valve.