Endocarditis

By, Gavin Nelson

What is Endocarditis?

Endocarditis is the inflammation of the Endocardium (the inner most layer of the heart). Usually affecting the aortic or mitral valves of the heart.

How is Endocarditis developed

The most common cause of endocarditis is the bacterial infection of the endocardium or heart valves. Bacteria can arrive through the blood stream and attach itself to the inner walls of the heart were they can multiply rapidly due to the oxygen rich environment of the inner heart. Endocarditis can also be caused by non bacterial causes such as cancers or stress

Signs and Symptoms of Endocarditis

Because of the large variety of different bacteria that can cause endocarditis signs and symptoms vary greatly between cases, but the most common ones are:

-Fatigue

-Chills

-Sweating

-Fever

-Swelling in feet and legs

-Painful red spots on hands and feet

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Causes

Endocarditis can be caused by any bacteria entering the blood stream, this can be caused by:

-Cuts and scraps

-Unclean needle usage

-Surgery

People who have a history of heart disease and people with damaged or artificial heart valves are the one who are most at risk for developing endocarditis

Treatment

The best way to treat endocarditis is with antibiotics. Blood tests will help identify the bacteria and the best antibiotic to use. Patients usually are on antibiotics for 2-6 weeks until there are no signs of the bacteria in the blood stream. Surgery is sometimes needed if the bacteria has caused severe damage to the heart valves.
Endocarditis, Cardiac Vegetations and Stroke video - Animation and Narration by Cal Shipley, M.D.

Preventative steps

The best way to prevent Endocarditis is to always wash and cover any open cuts or scraps to prevent bacteria from entering the blood stream. It also important to maintain a healthy blood pressure and pulse

Risks

If left unnoticed and untreated endocarditis can pose serious risks to your health. It can lead to heart murmurs, stroke and heart attacks. Also pieces of bacteria can break of from the heart valves and be sent into the blood stream where they can become blood clots.