Endocardium is the term used to describe the inner lining of the heart chamber and valves. Sometimes, this inner lining can become inflamed or infected causing a condition commonly referred to as endocarditis.
Endocarditis is either infective, often referred to as infective endocarditis, or non-infective or non-bacterial endocarditis. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the symptoms, causes and risks related to endocarditis.
Endocarditis is caused when bacteria, fungi, or other germs enter the bloodstream and then attack the diseased or damaged areas of the heart. Bacteria or other germs enter the bloodstream from a variety of sources, including poor dental hygiene, gum disease, brushing teeth, or dental procedures that cut the gum.
Sometimes, endocarditis can be caused by the use of contaminated needles used in body piercing and tattoos, or by IV drug users. It’s also possible for bacteria to enter the bloodstream through medical procedures such as the use of a catheter.
Certain diseases, such as sexually transmitted diseases, or inflammatory bowel disease, may also provide an avenue for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and make its way to the heart.
Who is at Risk?
Endocarditis is a condition which generally occurs in those with hearts that are already diseased or damaged. Those with damaged or artificial heart valves, or congenital heart defects are at greater risk of developing endocarditis.
A prior history of endocarditis increases the risk for a second occurrence. Illegal drug use also increases the risk of developing endocarditis. The condition is rarely found in those with a healthy heart.
The symptoms for endocarditis vary from person to person depending on the underlying cause of the infection or whether or not there are any pre-existing heart conditions present. Common endocarditis symptoms include: fever and other flu-like symptoms such as chills, fatigue, aching joints, aching muscles.