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What Is Endocarditis?

Endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium, or the inner lining of the heart. The risk of developing endocarditis is greater if you have damaged heart valves, artificial heart valves, or other existing heart damage.

The cause of endocarditis is an infection, often a bacterial infection. Bacteria can enter the body in many places such as open sores or infections in the mouth, skin or intestinal tract. Also, intravenous drug use and the use of IV's while under medical care also introduce bacteria into the body and raise the risk of developing endocarditis. Bacteria are more likely to infect the heart if there are areas of damage.

The signs of endocarditis include fever, chills, fatigue, aching joints or muscles, shortness of breath, paleness, cough, swelling of the extremitis, and blood in the urine. Treatment of endocarditis usually involves antibiotics.

Without treatment, endocarditis can result in heart failure and death.



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