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The endocardium is the inner lining of the heart muscle. Endocarditis is an infection of this lining and the heart valves.

Causes of endocarditis include:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Viral or fungal infection
  • Medical conditions that result in blood clotting too easily, causing a noninfectious form

Risk Factors for Endocarditis

Factors that may increase your risk of endocarditis include:

  • Having an artificial heart valve
  • History of rheumatic fever, which can damage heart valves
  • Heart defects
  • Enlarged heart
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • History of IV drug use
  • Recent procedures that can lead to bacterial endocarditis, including:
    • Tooth cleaning
    • Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
    • Bronchoscopy
    • Surgery on the gastrointestinal, urinary or respiratory tracts
    • Gallbladder or prostate surgery

Symptoms of Endocarditis

Symptoms of endocarditis include:

  • Fever, chills
  • Weakness, low energy
  • Sweatiness, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Painful red bumps on the fingers and toes
  • Purple dots on the whites of the eyes, under the fingernails and over the collarbone
  • Painful red patches on the fingers, palms and soles

Diagnosing & Treating Endocarditis

Your doctor will check your heart for unusual heart sounds, called heart murmurs. You may need an echocardiogram or blood tests. 

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics — given by IV for up to 4-8 weeks
  • Mitral valve repair surgery — if the valve is severely damaged or has caused heart failure


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.