The endocardium is the inner lining of the heart muscle. Endocarditis is an infection of this lining and the heart valves.


Causes include:

Bacterial Endocarditis

Nuclus factsheet image
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of endocarditis include:



Symptoms include:

  • Fever, chills
  • Weakness, low energy
  • Sweatiness, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Painful red bumps on the fingers and toes
  • Purple dots on the whites of the eyes, under the fingernails, and over the collarbone
  • Painful red patches on the fingers, palms, and soles


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check your heart for unusual heart sounds. These are called heart murmurs]]> .

Tests include:

  • Blood tests—to check for infection
  • ]]>Echocardiogram]]> —uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart



Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics—given through your veins for up to 4-8 weeks
  • Surgery—to repair or replace the valve if it is severely damaged


If you have a high risk of infection:

  • You may need to take antibiotics before certain dental or medical procedures.
  • Talk to your dentist or doctor before the procedure.

The American Heart Association guidelines recommend that preventive antibiotic therapy should be considered for individuals with the following cardiac conditions: *]]>

  • Various forms of congenital heart disease (heart defects)
  • Artificial heart valves
  • History of endocarditis
  • ]]>Heart transplant]]> recipients who have developed valve disease

Never use illegal IV drugs will also decrease your risk of infection.