Bacterial endocarditis

Bacterial endocarditis is a type of infection occurring in the endocardium or the heart valves. They are caused due to bacteria infecting the heart by entering the bloodstream. These bacteria can instigate in:

  • Respiratory system
  • Intestines
  • Skin
  • Mouth
  • Urinary tract

This condition is also known as infective endocarditis. It is a serious medical condition and requires prompt treatment. If it is not treated on time, it may damage the heart valves. It can also create other complications like:

  • Heart failure
  • Damaging other organs
  • Stroke
  • Death

People who have heart diseases are at higher risk of being infected by bacterial endocarditis. Antibiotics are provided to the patients before undergoing any medical procedure. It helps in preventing bacteria from entering the bloodstream that cause infection.

Causes

When tissues are damaged, infected or injured, it can cause endocarditis. Clots that are formed due to bacterial growth, harm the heart cells. These bacteria reach the heart through blood and concentrate near the valves.

The bacteria can enter the blood through:

  • An infected skin cut
  • When fit with artificial heart valves
  • Surgery and dental work
  • When a vascular access device is surgically implanted

Other conditions causing endocarditis in men include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Previous bout with rheumatic fever
  • Congenital heart valve disease
  • Autoimmune disease (systematic lupus erythematosus)
  • Chronic infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis

Symptoms

Symptoms vary among different men. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Blood along with urine
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • White spots near the mouth and on tongue
  • Red skin rash
  • Weight loss
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling and pain in the joints
  • Cough
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache with sinus congestion
  • Abnormal colour of the urine
  • Muscle aches along with tenderness
  • Breathlessness

Risk Factors

Men who are at high risk have:

  • A history of infective endocarditis
  • Heart valve disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • History of drug use
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Damaged heart valves
  • Valve regurgitation, thickening of the valve leaflets and mitral valve prolapse

The chances of acquiring bacterial endocarditis are higher after procedures that involve:

  • Treating infections
  • Inserting needles or catheters
  • Dental procedures that involve gums

Diagnosis

The doctor will question about the medical history along with the symptoms being experienced. Some physical examinations will also be conducted for checking the signs of the infection. Some of the tests include:

  • Blood cultures
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Chest X-ray

Treatment

Bacterial endocarditis causes a lot of harm to the heart. If not treated and found quickly, it can lead to death. The patient will be hospitalized for preventing the infection from growing and creating other complications. The treatments follow:

  • Antibiotics and the Initial Treatment: The vital signs are monitored in the hospital and antibiotics are provided intravenously (IV). After being discharged, oral or IV antibiotics are still provided till four weeks. Regular blood tests are done too.
  • Surgery: It is done when the heart valves are damaged. Either the heart valve is repaired or replaced by a new valve using artificial materials or animal tissue.

Surgery is done even when antibiotics don’t work on reducing the infection.