What Is the Treatment for Endocarditis?
If the cause is a bacterial infection, it needs to be treated with antibiotics. Due to the seriousness of the infection, patients with endocarditis are usually hospitalized. The antibiotics are usually given intravenously at the start of treatment, and may sometimes be given by mouth later on. The duration and method of treatment (oral or i.v.) depends on the exact type of bacteria, the status of the heart, the ability of the patient to take medication and other factors. The cure of the infection is very important to try to minimize damage to the valve. If the cause is a fungus, an antifungal drug will be used. If the cause is non-infectious, the underlying inflammation is treated (such as aspirin for rheumatic fever). If there is significant leakiness of the valves, medicines may be given to make the heart pump better and reduce the blood pressure, so the heart doesn't have to work as hard. If the valve leakiness is very severe, surgery may be needed to fix or replace the valve. If the infection is in an artificial valve, it may have to be replaced to treat the infection. If severe heart rhythm abnormalities occur, and cause heart block, a pacemaker may be needed.
For non-infectious endocarditis, treating the primary disease can help prevent the heart from becoming inflamed. In patients predisposed to getting endocarditis (at higher risk due to congenital or acquired heart defects), the risk can be reduced by decreasing the risk of having bacteria in the bloodstream. This can be done by having good dental hygiene (bad teeth and gums cause more bacteria to get into the blood), and taking antibiotics prior to procedures (such as certain types of surgery, a genitourinary or gastrointestinal exam, or dental cleaning) in cardiac patients who are at risk for endocarditis which are known to increase the chances of bacteria getting into the blood. The antibiotics kill the bacteria before they have a chance to infect the heart.