Definition of Endocarditis

EndocarditisEndocarditis is inflammation of the endocardium, the lining of the heart.

Viral or bacterial infection can cause endocarditis; either is potentially life threatening, though bacterial infection is considerably more common.

Bacterial endocarditis is a particular risk for people who have certain forms of cardiovascular disease (cvd) and may follow bacterial infection in other parts of the body.

Pathogenic (infection-causing) bacteria may also enter the blood circulation during dental, diagnostic, and surgical procedures that cause bleeding.

Endocarditis also occurs as a complication following valve repair or replacement surgery.

Conditions That Increase Risk For Endocarditis

cardiopulmonary shuntcyanotic congenital heart disease
heart transplantationhypertrophic cardiomyopathy
mitral valve prolapseprevious bacterial endocarditis
prosthetic heart valvesrheumatic heart disease
uncorrected congenital heart malformationsvalvular heart disease


Symptoms may include cough, shortness of breath (dyspnea), and chest pain. Mild to moderate fever, weight loss, night sweats, and joint pain are also common.

Symptoms vary with the location and nature of the infection and are often vague, making it challenging for doctors to connect them to the heart

The diagnostic path includes blood cultures to determine the presence of bacteria and echocardiogram to affirm the inflammation.


Treatment for bacterial endocarditis is intensive antibiotic therapy, administered intravenously in a hospital inpatient setting.

Treatment for viral endocarditis is supportive, sometimes requiring hospitalization to administer intravenous fluids and medications to ease the heart’s workload until the infection runs its course.

Complications of either form include endocardial abscesses, valvular abscesses, and damage to the heart valves.

With appropriate treatment most people recover, though some may have residual consequences (such as valve disease) and increased risk for subsequent infections


How did you like this article?

Page last reviewed:

About Us