Infective Endocarditis (IE)
Infective endocarditis refers to an infection of the endocardium or the endocardial surface of the heart. Endocardium is the layer of tissues that lines the inner surface of the heart, mainly the chambers of the heart including valves. Infective endocarditis is caused due to bacteria, fungus or other microorganisms that enters the bloodstream and eventually reaches the heart. The bacteria usually enters through your mouth. Infective endocarditis can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated in early stages.
There are many ways to get infected by infective endocarditis. Exact cause cannot be recognised in many cases. The bacteria can enter orally or other ways possibly as mentioned below:
- Basic daily oral activities such as brushing your teeth.
- Illegal use of drugs which involves contaminated needles or syringes.
- Dental procedures which may cut your gums that cause bacteria to enter your blood.
- Use of needles for tattooing and piercing body parts.
- Certain catheter procedures may cause build up of bacteria if it is placed for a longer duration.
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle and joint pain
- Swollen feet, legs or abdomen
- Difference in heart rhythm
Diagnosis for infective endocarditis can be made based on:
- Signs and symptoms
- Medical history
- Blood tests
- Computerised tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Chest X-ray
- Taking good care while performing basic daily oral activities
- Have regular check ups
- Avoid procedures like tattooing and piercing that may cause infection.
- Consult your doctor immediately if you suspect or notice any of the symptoms.
Treatment for infective endocarditis mostly involves medications and surgical procedures.
- Medicines used in the treatment of infective endocarditis usually involve antibiotics to treat the infection caused by bacteria or other microorganisms that have entered your bloodstream.
- Surgical procedure may be recommended by your doctor depending on the extent of damage to either repair or replace a damaged heart valve.
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