Endocarditis is an infection of a heart valve that is caused by bacteria or, rarely, fungi.

People who have damaged or artificial heart valves and certain types of heart murmurs have an increased risk of developing endocarditis. They often need to take antibiotics before certain procedures (such as dental work), surgery, or tests that may increase their risk of infection.

Endocarditis is treated with long-term antibiotics or, in serious cases, with surgery to replace damaged heart valves. If not treated, endocarditis can cause stroke, septicemia (blood poisoning), heart failure, or kidney failure.

Last Updated: April 16, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

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