Endocarditis Definition By Medical
Endocarditis definition is an infection of the inner lining of the human heart (endocardium). This disease is rare and potentially life-threatening sufferers.
Usually, endocarditis will not attack people who have a healthy heart. Some people who have more risk of endocarditis are people with heart valves damaged, people with artificial heart valves, suffering from congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy hypertrophy, and sufferers of some other heart disorders. People who frequently inject drugs are also at greater risk for endocarditis.
If not treated properly, patients with endocarditis may be exposed to several complications such as:
- Heart failure. Untreated endocarditis can damage the heart valve and destroy the inner lining of the heart permanently.
- Stroke and organ damage. Clumps of bacteria and cell fragments that form on the part of the infected heart can break, and travel to other organs.Such clots can cause strokes or damage to other organs and tissues.
- Infections on other body parts. Endocarditis may cause abscess or pus to occur on other body parts, including parts of the brain, kidneys, spleen or liver.
Symptoms of Endocarditis
Symptoms are something that is felt and told by the patient. Symptoms of endocarditis can develop slowly or suddenly, depending on the cause of infection and heart disease suffered by the patient. Some of the symptoms and clinical signs of endocarditis experienced by patients are:
- Weight loss without cause.
- Red spots under the skin on the fingers.
Dazed (mental confusion).
- Blood on urine.
- Sweat at night.
- Shortness of breath.
- Purple or red spots on the skin, white spot, or inner mouth.
- Swelling of the feet, legs, or abdomen.
- Coughing continuously.
- Pain in the joints, muscles and the left hip under the ribs (infection spreads to the spleen).
- Changes to heartbeat sound.
Causes of Endocarditis
Endocarditis will occur when the bacteria enter the bloodstream, then enter the heart and attach to the abnormal heart valves, or damage the heart tissue.
There are several ways germs can enter the bloodstream of a person, among others through:
- Catheter or syringe. Bacteria can enter through contaminated catheters and needles.
- Infection or other medical conditions. Bacteria can enter the heart from other parts of the body that are infected.
- Some dental procedures. Some dental procedures can injure the gums and make the bacteria enter the bloodstream.
- Daily mouth activity. Activities such as brushing your teeth and chewing your food can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream, especially when the condition of teeth and gums is bad.
In most cases of endocarditis, the bacteria are the cause. But, fungi and other microorganisms can also cause a person to suffer from endocarditis. People with heart valve disease, having abnormal or artificial heart valves are more at risk of endocarditis due to abnormal heart valves to where the bacteria congregate.
In addition, several other factors that can increase a person’s risk of endocarditis are:
- Injecting drug users.
- Congenital heart defects.
- Never have endocarditis.
- Damage of the heart valve.
Diagnosis of Endocarditis
Diagnosis is a doctor’s step to identify a disease or condition based on symptoms and clinical signs experienced by the patient. To diagnose endocarditis, after a history of disease and a physical examination, the doctor will continue some investigations such as:
- Blood test. This test is useful for identifying bacteria in the bloodstream through blood cultures, and some other medical conditions such as anemia.
- CT scan or MRI. This imaging test serves to check whether the infection has spread to other organs such as brain or chest.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram. This procedure is done to get a picture of the patient’s heart work, so that doctors can see more closely the patient’s heart valve.
- Chest X-ray, this examination will help the doctor to see if there is a patient’s heart enlargement. The doctor also checks whether the infection has spread to the lungs.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG). The doctor will confirm the abnormal pulse of the patient’s heart by checking the heart’s electrical wave activity.
Treatment and Prevention of Endocarditis
There are two ways of treatment for patients with endocarditis is the provision of antibiotics and surgery. Antibiotics usually become the first treatment step of endocarditis sufferers.
The purpose of antibiotics for endocarditis is to eliminate bacterial infections. High-dose antibiotics are generally inserted into the body through infusion, and patients should undergo this treatment usually two to six weeks.
If the infection has already damaged the heart valves, then the endocarditis patient will be treated with surgery. This action needs to be done to treat an infection that does not heal or to replace a damaged heart valve. Fungal-induced endocarditis sometimes also requires surgical treatment.
There are several steps that can be done to prevent endocarditis are:
- Keeping the body clean, especially dental health. Also avoid activities that can make the skin infected like piercing or tattooing.
- Taking preventive antibiotics. The owner of artificial heart valves, people who have had endocarditis, sufferers of some cardiac abnormalities, and heart transplant patients who suffer from heart valve function are advised to take antibiotics before they perform medical procedures to prevent endocarditis.