Endocarditis (Heart infections)

Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart's chambers and valves (endocardium), usually caused by bacteria or fungi. Endocarditis has the potential to damage or destroy your heart valves and it can be life-threatening if left untreated.

What are the causes of endocarditis?

  • Improper dental hygiene e.g., improper toothbrushing and flossing
  • Long-term use of catheters (thin tubes used to inject or remove fluid from the body)
  • Contaminated needles through illegal drug use e.g., heroin or cocaine

What are the symptoms of endocarditis?

  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Chest pain when breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in your feet, legs, or abdomen
  • A new or changed heart murmur
  • Skin rash
  • Pain, tenderness, redness or swelling
  • Wound or cut that won't heal
  • Red, warm, or draining sore
  • Sore throat, scratchy throat or pain when swallowing

What are the risk factors for endocarditis?

  • Older age
  • Artificial (prosthetic) heart valves
  • Damaged heart valves (due to rheumatic fever or infections)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Implanted heart device (e.g., pacemaker)
  • History of endocarditis
  • History of illegal intravenous drug use
  • Poor dental health
  • Long-term catheter use

How is endocarditis diagnosed?

  • Symptoms of infection
  • Blood cultures
  • Echocardiogram

What are the treatment options for endocarditis?

  • Broad spectrum antibiotics
  • Surgery to repair a damaged heart valve and to improve heart function

What are the prevention tips for endocarditis?

  • Understand the symptoms and signs of endocarditis and seek medical advice immediately if you develop the symptoms
  • Practice good dental hygiene to preserve your overall health by frequently brushing and flossing your teeth and gums, and having regular dental check-ups
  • Do not use illegal intravenous drugs as dirty needles can increase your risk of endocarditis
  • Take preventive antibiotics before a dental or medical procedure if you are at high risk of endocarditis


  1. Endocarditis. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endocarditis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352576 [Accessed on 10 May 2022]
  2. Endocarditis. Available at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16957-endocarditis [Accessed on 10 May 2022]
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