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Infectious endocarditis is an infection of the lining of the heart chambers and heart valves, caused by bacteria, fungi, or other infectious agents.
Infectious endocarditis is an inflammation of the heart valves. Endocarditis is distinguished from infections of heart muscle (myocarditis) or the lining of the heart (pericarditis). Most people who develop infectious endocarditis have underlying heart disease.
Endocarditis is usually a result of bacteremia (bacteria in the blood), which is common during dental, upper respiratory, urologic, and lower gastrointestinal diagnostic and surgical procedures. The bacteria in the bloodstream can settle on damaged heart valves, and grow to create a “vegetation” or clump of live bacteria. These growths may form infected clots that break off and travel to the brain, lungs, kidneys, or spleen.
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Congestive heart failure if treatment is delayed
Blood clots or emboli that travel to brain, kidneys, lungs, or abdomen, causing severe damage
Arrhythmias (rapid or irregular heartbeat), such as atrial fibrillation
Severe valve damage