Endocarditis is inflammation of heart’s inner lining, called the endocardium. It’s usually caused by bacteria. When the inflammation is caused by infection, the condition is called infective endocarditis. Endocarditis is uncommon in people with healthy hearts.
SYMPTOMS OF ENDOCARDITIS
The symptoms of endocarditis are not always severe, and they may develop slowly over time. In the early stages of endocarditis, the symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. This is why many cases go undiagnosed.
Many of the symptoms are similar to cases of the flu or other infections, such as pneumonia. However, some people experience severe symptoms that appear suddenly. These symptoms may be due to inflammation or the associated damage it causes.
Common symptoms of endocarditis include:
- Heart murmur, which is an abnormal heart sound of turbulent blood flow through the heart
- pale skin
- Fever or chills
- Night sweats
- Muscle or joint pain
- Nausea or decreased appetite
- A full feeling in the upper left part of abdomen
- Unintentional weight loss
- Swollen feet, legs, or abdomen
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Aching joints and muscles
- Chest pain when you breathe
- Flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in feet, legs or abdomen
- A new or changed heart murmur, which is the heart sound made by blood rushing through the heart
LESS COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ENDOCARDITIS CAN INCLUDE:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in urine, which might be able to see
- Tenderness in spleen, which is an infection-fighting organ located just below your left rib cage
- Red spots on the soles of feet or the palms of hands (Janeway lesions)
- Red, tender spots under the skin of fingers or toes (Osler's nodes)
- Tiny purple or red spots, called petechiae (puh-TEE-kee-ee), on the skin, in the whites of eyes or inside mouth
CAUSES OF ENDOCARDITIS
Endocarditis occurs when germs, usually bacteria, enter the bloodstream, travel to heart, and attach to abnormal heart valves or damaged heart tissue. Fungi or other germs also may cause endocarditis.
Usually, our immune system destroys any harmful bacteria that enter our bloodstream. However, bacteria that live in our mouth, throat or other parts of our body, such as our skin or our gut, can sometimes cause endocarditis under the right circumstances.
Bacteria, fungi and other germs that cause endocarditis might enter our bloodstream through:
- Improper dental care.
- Illegal IV drug use.
RISK FACTORS OF ENDOCARDITIS
Endocarditis may likely cause due to faulty, diseased or damaged heart valves. However, endocarditis does occasionally occur in previously healthy people.
Increased risk of endocarditis includes:
- Older age. Endocarditis occurs most often in older adults over age 60.
- Artificial heart valves. Germs are more likely to attach to an artificial (prosthetic) heart valve than to a normal heart valve.
- Damaged heart valves. Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatic fever or infection, can damage or scar one or more of our heart valves, increasing the risk of infection.
- Congenital heart defects. If someone were born with certain types of heart defects, such as an irregular heart or abnormal heart valves, our heart may be more susceptible to infection.
- Implanted heart device. Bacteria can attach to an implanted device, such as a pacemaker, causing an infection of the heart's lining.
- A history of endocarditis. Endocarditis can damage heart tissue and valves, increasing the risk of a future heart infection.
- A history of illegal IV drug use. People who use illegal drugs by injecting them are at a greater risk of endocarditis. The needles used to inject drugs can be contaminated with the bacteria that can cause endocarditis.
- Poor dental health. A healthy mouth and healthy gums are essential for good health. If one don't brush and floss regularly, bacteria can grow inside their mouth and may enter the bloodstream through a cut on their gums.
- Long-term catheter use. Having a catheter in place for a long period of time (indwelling catheter) increases our risk of endocarditis.
COMPLICATIONS OF ENDOCARDITIS
In endocarditis, clumps made of germs and cell pieces form an abnormal mass in our heart. These clumps, called vegetations, can break loose and travel to our brain, lungs, abdominal organs, kidneys, or arms and legs.
As a result, endocarditis can cause several complications, including:
- Heart problems, such as heart murmur, heart valve damage and heart failure
- Pockets of collected pus (abscesses) that develop in the heart, brain, lungs and other organs
- Blood clot in a lung artery (pulmonary embolism)
- Kidney damage
- Enlarged spleen
PREVENTION OF ENDOCARDITIS
You can take the following steps to help prevent endocarditis:
- Know the signs and symptoms of endocarditis- Visit immediately if one may develop any signs or symptoms, especially a fever that won't go away, unexplained fatigue, any type of skin infection, or open cuts or sores that don't heal properly.
- Take care of teeth and gums. Brush and floss teeth and gums often, and have regular dental checkups. Good dental hygiene is an important part of maintaining our overall health.
- Don't use illegal IV drugs. Dirty needles can send bacteria into our bloodstream, increasing risk of endocarditis.
HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT OF ENDOCARDITIS
Aurum metallicum- Very useful medicine when there is arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and nocturnal paroxysms of pain behind the sternum. Useful when there is presence of valvular lesions of arteriosclerosis, with a sensation of the heart having stopped beating for two or three seconds, followed by a sinking sensation behind the epigastrium .There is violent palpitation and oppression of the heart with rapid, feeble and irregular pulse with visible throbbing of the carotids.
Kalmia latifolia -Very useful for tumultuous, rapid and visible anguish around the heart, fluttering of the heart with anxiety.There is sharp, burning and shooting radiating to the left scapula.Useful for Palpitation which is worse by leaning forward. Often there is gouty and rheumatic metastasis of the heart.There is wandering rheumatic pains which travel from above downwards.
Spegelia-Useful when there is violent palpitations which are audible.Also there is throbbing of carotids.Helpful in violent, sticking and compressive type of pains.There is soreness and purring of the heart.
Veratrum viride - There is constant, dull, burning pain in the region of the heart. Useful for beating of the pulse throughout the body with slow, soft and weak pulse.There is irregular and intermittent pulse. It induces a fall in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.