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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Endocarditis is an infection of the tissue that lines the inside of your heart. Many times it also affects valves of your heart. Endocarditis, and the health problems it may cause, can be serious and can become life-threatening.
You may need any of the following:
- Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
- Blood pressure medicine is given to decrease your blood pressure.
- Heart medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.
- Diuretics decrease excess fluid. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.
- Pain medicine may be given.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your cardiologist as directed:
You may need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Adjust your activities as directed. You may need to decrease your activities or exercise while you have symptoms. Ask your PHP about the best exercise plan for you.
- Eat heart healthy foods. Foods that help protect the heart include fruits, vegetables, nuts, salmon, and canola and soybean oils. You may be told to eat foods low in cholesterol or sodium (salt) or high in fiber. You also may be told to limit saturated and trans fats. Ask your PHP or nutritionist for more information on a heart healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your PHP how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
- Keep your teeth and gums healthy. Brush your teeth 2 to 3 times every day. It is best to brush your teeth after meals. Gently brush your teeth and gums with a clean toothbrush that has soft bristles. See your dentist for regular checkups. Always tell your dental caregivers that you have had endocarditis.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you should take antibiotics before certain procedures. Some procedures may allow bacteria to get into your blood and travel to your heart. You may need medicine to prevent a bacterial infection.
Contact your cardiologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You lose your appetite or are unable to eat.
- You have increased fatigue and weakness.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
- You have sudden trouble breathing or shortness of breath while lying down.
- Your heart pounds or flutters, or your heart rate is faster than normal for you.
- You have new or increased swelling in your feet or ankles.
- You feel faint.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.