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Bacterial Endocarditis

Open Heart Surgery Handbook

Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium (inner lining) or valves of the heart. It can occur any time bacteria enter the bloodstream (i.e., dental work, surgery, procedures, infections or self-injection of drugs). Persons with congenital heart defects, heart structures altered by rheumatic fever or infection, and those who have had heart valve replacement or repair are among those considered at risk for this infection.

Bacterial endocarditis can scar and destroy heart valves, so extreme care should be taken to avoid it. Fortunately, the advent of antibiotics has gone a long way toward combating bacterial endocarditis. Therefore, you should consult your doctor about taking antibiotics prior to any dental work; all major surgery; minor surgeries such as drainage of abscesses, tonsillectomy, appendectomy, prostate surgery, and childbirth; and any procedures which cause trauma to body tissues (i.e., bladder exams and some rectal exams). Should any symptoms of this infection occur (fever, sweating, loss of appetite, weight loss or an overall lack of energy), please contact your doctor at once.
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