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Prevent Endocarditis



is an infection of the inner lining of your heart. It may also affect the valves of your heart. Endocarditis is most often caused by a bacterial infection. It may also be caused by viral, fungal, or parasitic infections.

You may be at risk for endocarditis if you have any of the following:

  • A history of endocarditis
  • An artificial heart valve
  • Damage to your heart valve from infection or injury
  • Inject illegal drugs
  • Congenital heart disease, mitral valve prolapse, or a problem with your aortic valve
  • Use of medicine that weakens your immune system such as steroids
  • A condition that weakens your immune system such as HIV or lupus
  • A urinary or IV catheter
  • Implanted devices in your heart such as a pacemaker or defibrillator

Call 911 or have someone else call for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You lose consciousness or cannot be woken.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have a cough or shortness of breath.
  • You have a headache, body aches, or joint pain.
  • Your heart is pounding or beating faster than usual.
  • You have swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles.
  • You have abdominal pain.
  • You have red or purple dots on your hands or feet.

Call your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a poor appetite.
  • You feel very weak.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Keep your teeth and gums healthy:

Bacteria can enter your blood through cavities or sores on your gums. This bacteria may travel to your heart and cause endocarditis. Brush and floss your teeth 2 to 3 times every day. It is best to brush and floss after meals. Gently brush your teeth and gums with a clean toothbrush that has soft bristles. Go to the dentist every 6 months for check ups. Make sure your dentures fit correctly. Dentures that do not fit correctly can cause gum sores.

Ask your healthcare provider if you should take antibiotics before procedures:

Some procedures may cause bacteria to get into your blood and travel to your heart.

Carry a wallet card that says you are at risk for endocarditis:

This card will alert healthcare providers that you are at risk for endocarditis. It will also help them decide if you need antibiotics before a procedure or in an emergency. You can get this card through the American Heart Association.

  • American Heart Association
    7272 Greenville Avenue
    Dallas , TX 75231-4596
    Phone: 1- 800 - 242-8721
    Web Address:

Do not inject illegal drugs:

Talk to your healthcare provider if you currently inject illegal drugs and need help to quit.

Follow up with your cardiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.