How is bacterial endocarditis diagnosed?
A healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and your health history, and they will also give you a physical exam to be sure of the diagnosis. Certain tests may also be given, such as;
- An echocardiogram allows your provider to view the valves and blood flow through your heart
- Transesophageal echocardiogram for a more detailed view of the heart with a viewpoint from the esophagus
- Medical providers will take blood tests and cultures to check for bacteria and signs of inflammation
- Electrocardiography or an ECG to analyze the rhythm of your heart
- Chest X-ray is performed to examine your lungs
- Cardiac CT, if more information about your heart is needed.
- Urine tests to check for kidney damage
- MRI of the brain to check for damage
Treatment Plans For Bacterial Endocarditis
Most treatment plans for bacterial endocarditis involve taking antibiotics. In the beginning, you will be given antibiotics through an IV, which may require you to stay at the hospital for the first week of a treatment since it is through an IV. After the first week, you can be able to have IV antibiotics at home with home-based care. Then, later you will be able to take antibiotics orally. The type of antibiotics depends on a lot of different factors. The antibiotics also depend on the type of bacteria or if you have an artificial heart valve. Your healthcare team will find the best treatment plan for you together. Your full healthcare team will b a cardiologist, a pharmacist, an infectious disease doctor, and a heart surgeon.
All of these team members are included just in case a lot of heart damage is found and if surgery is necessary. If there is a good amount of severe damage to your heart or your heart valves, then a surgeon is there if you need heart valve surgery. Heart valve surgery is done to repair or replace a damaged valve in your heart. You may require surgery if the antibiotics did not work well enough to cure the infection and more work is necessary to improve your health from the infection.
Possible Complications of Bacterial Endocarditis;
The infection of bacterial endocarditis can cause clumps of bacteria and cells to clump up and adhere and form to the heart’s valves. These clumps can break off and fall into the bloodstream, thus causing damage by blocking other blood vessels from transporting the blood to where it needs to go in the body. It can also spread the infection to other organs, so there are many possible complications, many of which can be serious. These complications risk ability changes depending on the person’s other medical conditions. Possible complications include;
- Heart Failure
- Heart valve damage
- Heart block
- Heart attack
- Brain abscesses- a swollen area in the brain that contains an accumulation of pus in the area
- Meningitis- inflammation of the meninges (three membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord)
- Blood clot in the lung also known as pulmonary embolism
- Kidney infection and damage
- Spleen enlargement and damage
- Inability to cure the infection
Preventing Bacterial Endocarditis – IV Drug Use
You can not always prevent bacterial endocarditis, not all cases are preventable, but you can decrease some of the risks of getting the infection. You can do this by getting drug and alcohol treatment You may also be able to take antibiotics before some medical and dental procedures to help prevent this infection if you have an artificial heart valve or if you have had a heart valve repair that was done with artificial material. You can also take antibiotics if you have specific congenital heart disease, a history of endocarditis, had a heart transplant with a leaky valve. Be aware to tell your dentists and other healthcare providers about your heart health history to better help you not get bacterial endocarditis.
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