What is Endocarditis?
Endocarditis is a condition that occurs when the inner lining of the heart, known as the endocardium, becomes inflamed. This can be caused by infection or other conditions.
Infectious endocarditis, also known as bacterial endocarditis, is a condition caused by bacteria. Bacteria from other parts of the body enter the bloodstream and attack the endocardium and/or heart chambers.
Different types of bacterial endocarditis exist, depending on which bacteria are causing the infection. Treatment for endocarditis usually involves antibiotics and, in some cases, surgery.
Different types of endocarditis
Endocarditis is a serious infection of the heart. It occurs when bacteria or other germs enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart, damaging or destroying the heart valves.
Depending on which bacteria are involved, there are different types of bacterial endocarditis. The most common type is streptococcal endocarditis, which is caused by streptococcus bacteria. This type is often observed in patients with heart valve problems.
Other types of endocarditis include:
- Enterococcal endocarditis: This is caused by the enterococcus bacteria. It often occurs in people with weakened immune systems.
- Staphylococcal endocarditis: This is caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. It often occurs in patients who have had heart surgery or who have heart valve problems.
Common endocarditis symptoms
Endocarditis symptoms can vary depending on the patient. They may develop slowly or come on suddenly.
The most common signs and symptoms of endocarditis are as follows:
- Fever with chills
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Heart murmur
- Muscle and joint pain
- Chest pain while breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
Top endocarditis causes
The most common cause of infectious endocarditis is streptococcus bacteria, but other bacteria, such as staphylococcus and enterococcus, can also cause the infection. In some cases, the bacteria are already present in the body, but they only cause endocarditis when they enter the bloodstream.
Bacteria can enter the bloodstream in several ways and contribute to endocarditis causes. One of the most common routes is through the mucous membranes, such as the mouth, nose, or ear. Injections, medical procedures, and even dental work can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream.
In addition, bacterial endocarditis is more common in people with certain medical conditions that weaken the heart or the immune system. These include congenital heart defects, heart valve problems, and HIV/AIDS.
People who have had recent heart surgery or had a pacemaker or other heart device implanted are also at increased risk.
Diagnosis of endocarditis
Endocarditis is a serious heart infection that can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors can diagnose this condition in several different ways, and the best way to do so may vary depending on the patient.
Some of the most common methods of endocarditis diagnosis are as follows:
- Blood culture tests: One common way to diagnose endocarditis is through blood cultures. This can help identify any bacteria that may be present in the blood, which can then be further cultured and isolated to determine the cause of infection.
Furthermore, blood tests such as a CBC and C-reactive protein test are extensively used for endocarditis diagnosis.
- Echocardiogram: Imaging tests such as echocardiograms, which use sound waves to create a picture of the heart, can help discern if there is any damage to the heart valves, including any abscesses, vegetation (bacterial growth), and/or regurgitation of blood.
- Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and electrocardiogram: TEE is a gold standard imaging study used for bacterial endocarditis diagnosis. It is used to view the heart through the oesophagus.Similarly, an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) is used to get a better idea of the heart’s electric activity by assessing its rhythm or rate.
Treatment options for endocarditis
A number of endocarditis treatment options are available. Treatment typically involves antibiotics, and in some cases, surgery may also be required.
The first step in treating endocarditis is to administer antibiotics to the patient. This is usually done through an IV, and the length of treatment depends on the severity of the infection.
In most cases, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is used to cover as many bacterial suspects as possible. The treatment can last up to 6 weeks.
In some bacterial endocarditis cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged tissue or repair damaged valves. This is done to restore normal heart functioning.
Complications of endocarditis
Bacterial endocarditis can be a serious infection. It can damage the heart and lead to heart failure. It can also cause strokes and other problems.
Other complications of infectious endocarditis include:
- Heart valve damage
- Kidney damage
- Enlarged spleen
- Development of abscesses in the heart, brain, and lungs
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lungs)
- Mycotic aneurysm
- Metastatic infection
- Congestive heart failure
Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s inner lining, the endocardium. It usually occurs when bacteria from another part of the body, such as the bloodstream, enter the heart.
Endocarditis is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. If left untreated, it can damage the heart and lead to heart failure. Thus, if any of the aforementioned symptoms persist, it is important to see a doctor right away.
The department of cardiology at the CK Birla Hospital is well-resourced with modern facilities and technologies for faster and better diagnosis and treatment of all cardiovascular issues, including endocarditis.
The internationally renowned team of cardiologists at the CK Birla Hospital works with a multidisciplinary approach to provide the best care for all cardiac emergencies. Visit your nearest facility or book an appointment with Dr Sanjeeva Kumar Gupta today to consult with the best cardiologists in the country.