Complications from endocarditis

Some of the major complications from endocarditis can include:

  • Heart complications. Endocarditis can cause other problems in the heart such as:
    • Heart failure. Heart failure is more likely to develop or progress when endocarditis has significantly damaged a heart valve or the heart muscle.
    • Abscesses on heart valves. An abscess, which is a pocket of pus, may form around an infected heart valve.
    • Heart rhythm problems. Heart rhythm problems can occur if the heart's electrical system has been damaged by the infection. This can cause an abnormally fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.
  • Blocked blood flow. Endocarditis may produce blood clots (emboli) with infectious bacteria that can break off (embolize) from where they originate and travel through the bloodstream. When these emboli block the blood supply to various parts of the body, serious conditions can develop, such as:
    • Heart attack. Heart attacks are caused by complete blockage of blood flow to a part of the heart muscle.
    • Stroke. A stroke can occur if the blood clot blocks blood flow in the arteries that lead to the brain.
    • Low oxygen because of blood clots in the lung. These blood clots can occur if the endocarditis is in the right side of the heart.
  • Infection in other organs. Infected tissue may break off of a heart valve and travel to other parts of the body. These other parts, such as lungs, brain, or kidneys, may become infected.
  • Other organ complications. Other organs may be affected if blood clots from endocarditis travel through the body and block blood flow to an organ. Examples of organ complications include:
    • Acute renal failure. Acute renal failure may occur from blood clots in the kidney or by damage to the filtering system of the kidney.
    • Abscesses in organs such as the spleen, kidneys, or brain. Organ abscesses are rare complications that can develop if a blood clot gets stuck in the organ or its connecting artery.

Last Updated: April 16, 2009

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