Endocarditis is a severe infection process of the heart valves and the inner lining of the heart chambers.
What is Endocarditis?
Endocarditis is an acute infection of the heart valves or the inner layer of the heart chambers. Small lesions consistent of bacteria, also called vegetations, can build up on top of the heart valves and will progressively lead to their destruction if left untreated.
The vegetations can also rupture and eject infectious material along the blood flow to other organs like brain, kidney, liver and limbs, causing satellite infections in the affected areas.
How does a bacterial infection get to our heart in the first place?
Every bacterial infection in our body when streaming through the blood will pass through our heart.
A structural defect or faulty valves in the heart are the most likely causes of suffering from this infection and the build-up of vegetations, although some with a healthy heart can develop vegetations due to other causes, such as diabetes.
Those with artificial heart aids, such as valve replacements or pacemakers, may also be susceptible to infection and the build-up of vegetation.
What are the symptoms of Endocarditis?
The symptoms vary from patient to patient depending upon the existence of an underlying or pre-existing heart condition and the type of the germ that's causing the infection.
Symptoms may include aching muscles and joints, chills, fever, headaches, breathlessness, a new or change to an existing heart murmur, nausea, or a swelling to the abdomen, legs or feet.
What assessment do I need if I have Endocarditis?
Management of this condition often requires admission to hospital. In addition to blood tests, your Cardiologist will perform a transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) to image your heart and very likely will subsequently perform a transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) to obtain a clearer view of the heart valves which can often not be achieved by the transthoracic echocardiography images.
Both echocardiographic assessments are pain-free, although there may be a little discomfort during the TEE when the ultrasound probe is passed down the esophagus (food pipe) similar to a gastroscopy.
What are the treatments for Endocarditis vegetations?
Vegetations are bacterial growths on the heart valves and are treated in the first instance by a long course of intravenous antibiotics, however, surgery may be required depending on the severity and size of the condition, especially when valves are being functionally destroyed by the bacterial growth or they don't respond to antibacterial treatment.
What intervention/ treatment does CardioCare offer for Endocarditis?
CardioCare offers all diagnostic tests and hospitalization for intravenous antibiotic treatment.