Pharmacy Clinical Pearl of the Day: Endocarditis

Bacteria, fungi, and other germs that cause endocarditis may enter the bloodstream through improper dental care, catheters, and IV drug use.

Clinical Pearl of the Day: Endocarditis

Endocarditis is a life-threatening inflammation of the inner lining of the heart's chambers and valves (endocardium).

Insight:

  • Endocarditis is usually caused by an infection.
  • Bacteria, fungi, or other germs from another part of the body, such as the mouth, spread through the bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in the heart.
  • If it's not treated quickly, endocarditis can damage or destroy the heart valve.
  • Symptoms may include aching joints and muscles, chest pain when breathing, fatigue, flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, night sweats, shortness of breath, and swelling in the feet, legs, or abdomen.
  • Bacteria, fungi, and other germs that cause endocarditis may enter the bloodstream through improper dental care, catheters, and illicit intravenous (IV) drug use.
  • Risk factors may include older age, artificial heart valves, damaged heart valves, congenital heart valves, implanted heart device, a history of endocarditis, history of drug use, poor dental health, and long-term catheter use.
  • Diagnosis may include blood culture, complete blood count, echocardiogram, chest x-ray, and CT.
  • Treatment may include high doses of IV antibiotics, antifungals, and possible surgery.

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