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Infectious endocarditis

Infectious endocarditis - What it is

​Infective endocarditis is an infection of the heart valves, and although uncommon can be potentially life threatening. 

Infectious endocarditis - Symptoms

The most common symptom is that of fever. This can be associated with chills, anorexia, unexplained weight loss, lethargy and night sweats. 

Often, if there is spread of the infection to other parts of the body, patients can present with abdominal pain, joint pain, stroke-like symptoms, chest pain and even shortness of breath. If their infective endocarditis is associated with dental infection, they can also present with tooth pain together with the above symptoms. 

Infectious endocarditis - How to prevent?

In a group of patients at high risk of infective endocarditis, they would benefit from antibiotic prophylaxis administered prior to dental procedures. 
This group of high risk patients include those with: 
  • A history of infective endocarditis.
  • Those who have undergone valve replacement surgery. 
  • Those with unrepaired cyanotic congential heart disease or repaired congenital heart disease with residual deficits.
  • Cardiac transplantation who develop valve disorders. 
Advice on the need for antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental procedures should be sought from a medical specialist. 

Infectious endocarditis - Causes and Risk Factors

​Risk factors for infective endocarditis include that of pre-existing cardiac conditions such as heart valve abnormalitis, history of heart valve replacement surgery and a previous history of infective endocarditis. Other risk factors include that of intravenous drug use, immunosuppression or recent dental procedures. 

Infectious endocarditis - Diagnosis

Diagnosis is dependent on symptoms, imaging such as an echocardiography and identifying a micro-organism based on blood cultures. 

This will require the combined expertise of a specialist team (infectious diseases physicians, cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeons), and patients should be advised to seek professional medical help. 

Infectious endocarditis - Treatments

Depending on the severity of infection, this is likely to involve a prolonged course of intravenous antibiotics with or without concurrent surgery. 

Being placed near the National Heart Centre with good cardiothoracic surgery support, Singapore General Hospital is ideal for the evaluation and management of infective endocarditis. 

Infectious endocarditis - Preparing for surgery

Infectious endocarditis - Post-surgery care

Infectious endocarditis - Other Information

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