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Endocarditis is an infection of the heart's valves or its inner lining (endocardium). This infection is caused by bacteria or, in rare cases, fungi.
For people who have certain heart conditions, such as damaged or artificial heart valves, getting endocarditis is even more dangerous. They may need to take antibiotics before certain dental and surgical procedures. The antibiotics lower the risk of getting endocarditis.
Endocarditis is usually treated with long-term antibiotics. Or, in serious cases, it is treated with surgery to replace damaged heart valves. If not treated, endocarditis can cause stroke, infection in other organs, heart failure, or kidney failure.
Last Revised: March 9, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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