Endocarditis is the inflammation of the heart’s inner layer, known medically as the endocardium. The condition may be either infective or non-infective, with the infective variant being caused by a microorganism. Endocarditis is more likely to be seen in patients with pre-existing heart disease, or those with HIV/AIDS. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, flu-like symptoms, weight loss, muscle pain and shortness of breath. Complications may arise such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke and additional infections if endocarditis goes untreated. Antibiotics are the mainstay of therapy, but surgery may be required if heart valves have been damaged.
- Penicillin G
Endocarditis typically results from an infection and, as a result, symptoms may present themselves several days after the infection has first manifested. Sufferers of endocarditis usually have symptoms like flu-like symptoms (fever, sweats, and chills), before leading to weight loss, muscle discomfort, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms fail to resolve, the infection may worsen, and symptoms will become more severe.
The following list of symptoms is by no means intended to be exhaustive, but it highlights many of the common symptoms experienced by patients with endocarditis:
- Heart Murmur
- Shortness of Breath
- Muscle Pain
Endocarditis appears in two different forms: infective and non-infective forms. Endocarditis is more typically caused by infections and may be caused by several strains of bacteria. Endocarditis itself refers to inflammation of the internal layer of the heart, known anatomically as the endocardium. Patients who have problems with blood flow are significantly more likely to experience endocarditis. Other risk factors and potential causes of endocarditis include patients with pre-existing heart disease, a congenital heart defect, or patients infected with HIV. Endocarditis often affects heart valves, as valves themselves do not receive adequate blood flow, meaning inflammation is more likely to manifest.
Patients suspected of having endocarditis will undergo a physical examination for their diagnosis to determine the extent and source of symptoms. Thereafter, patient history will be taken to account for any pre-existing heart disorders. Other cardiac tests will also be performed, such as auscultation, an ECG and cardiac ultrasound. Blood tests will reveal whether an infection is present, and whether there is a disruption in inflammatory factors. An echocardiography may also be performed to establish whether the patient has any valve blockage.
Untreated endocarditis is associated with serious complications, including permanent damage to the heart valves, heart attack and stroke. Effective treatment is, therefore, essential. The primary goal of treatment is to eliminate the infection within the thrombus (as the thrombus is what contributes toward the inflammation). Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment though surgery may be required if heart valve damage has occurred. Drugs typically employed in the treatment of endocarditis include penicillin G, ceftriaxone and cefazolin.