What is Endocarditis? Know its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Endocarditis is a problem related to the heart which is caused by an infection in the heart in which there is swelling in the inner layer of the heart. This inner layer of the heart is called the endocardium. When bacteria, fungi or other germs get infected from any other part of the body in this layer, this condition is called endocarditis. Apart from this, these infections also spread through oral activities and the bloodstream which affect the heart.
Usually, the endocardium includes the valves of the heart. In addition, it includes the interventricular septum, the mural endocardium, chordae tendineae and the surfaces of intracardiac devices. The lesions of endocarditis are known as vegetations which is a part of fibrin, platelets, microcolonialism of microorganisms and inflammatory cells.
Symptoms of Endocarditis
Some common symptoms of endocarditis or heart infection are seen are as follows-
- Flu-like chills and fever.
- Persistent cough.
- Distinctive (altered) sound from the heart due to increased blood flow.
- Feeling more weak and tired.
- Severe pain in joints and muscles.
- Night sweats while sleeping.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain while breathing.
- Swelling in abdomen and legs.
Apart from this, some unusual symptoms of endocarditis are also seen which are as follows-
- Rapid weight loss without any reason.
- Blood in the urine.
- Spleen tenderness due to infection.
- Red rash on the palms and soles of the feet.
- Red and soft bumps on the skin of the toes.
- Petechiae i.e, red or purple patches on the skin, mouth, and eyes.
Causes of Endocarditis
The main causes of endocarditis are bacteria and germs reaching the inner lining of the heart (endocardium). When these germs enter the blood vessels, they spread through the blood to the heart or other parts of the body. After that these germs start to damage the valve or tissue of the heart. Apart from this, fungi or microorganisms are responsible for causing endocarditis. Let us know by which means these germs enter the body-
- If you do not clean your mouth regularly.
- When the blood coming out of the gums goes to the inner tissue of the heart.
- When using a tattooing needle.
- Taking illicit drugs, narcotic drugs such as heroin, cocaine through infectious needles.
- When the gums are cut due to some dental procedure.
Risk factors for getting Endocarditis
Artificial heart valve-
People with artificial valves are more prone to spreading germs than normal heart valves.
Congenital heart defect-
People who have had a heart-related disease since birth may be more susceptible to infection.
Have ever had endocarditis before-
If a person has had endocarditis in the past, then they are more likely to get a heart-related infection because once the person has endocarditis, the heart tissue of the person has been damaged. Therefore, it can also be a risk factor for having endocarditis.
Having rheumatic fever causes damage to the heart valves. This increases the risk of developing endocarditis.
Prevention methods of Endocarditis
- Pay special attention to the health of your teeth.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before eating.
- Clean the teeth and gums thoroughly with the help of floss and consult a dentist regularly.
- Avoid piercing, tattooing, and other types of skin-infecting procedures.
- In case of any type of skin infection and the wound is not healing, contact the doctor immediately.
Tests for Endocarditis
To check for endocarditis, doctors recommend a blood culture test. Through this test, bacteria and fungi are detected. Apart from this, anaemia etc. is also detected through a blood test.
Echocardiogram test is used for endocarditis. Through this test, pictures of the heart are taken through sound waves through which is known about the infection in the tissue of the heart.
When the report from the echocardiogram is not clear, in this situation the doctor requests the patient to undergo an electrocardiogram test. In this test, the doctor checks the patient's heartbeat.
Doctors do chest X-rays to know the condition of the lungs and heart through which the enlarged size of the heart and infection in the lungs are detected.
CT scan or MRI-
The doctor may also prescribe a CT scan or MRI test if there is a serious problem of endocarditis. By this, apart from the heart, the spread of infection to other parts of the body is also detected.
Complex problems associated with endocarditis
Stroke and damage to limbs-
In endocarditis, cell fragments and clumps of bacteria form at the site of infection. When these bacteria break down and disperse, in this condition they reach the stomach, kidney, brain and various parts of the body through the blood causing stroke or damage to other tissues or organs. Along with this, various physical and mental problems start arising.
Infection in muscles or other parts-
Endocarditis forms abscessed pus in other parts of the body including the kidney, brain, liver, spleen due to which an abscess can also form in the heart muscle. As a result, the heartbeat may be abnormal. In this case, surgery may also be required to treat severe abscesses.
If not treated in time, endocarditis damages the heart valves. If left untreated, this infection can permanently destroy the inner lining. This makes it difficult for the valve to pump blood. As a result, the risk of heart failure increases.