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Endocarditis is an inflammation of the heart's inner lining. The most common type, bacterial endocarditis, occurs when germs enter the heart. These germs come through the bloodstream from another part of the body, often the mouth. Bacterial endocarditis can damage the heart valves. If untreated, it can be life-threatening. Endocarditis is rare in healthy hearts.

Risk factors include having

  • An abnormal or damaged heart valve
  • A severe case of mitral valve prolapse
  • An artificial heart valve
  • Certain heart defects

If an individual is considered high risk for bacterial endocarditis, his/her doctor might prescribe antibiotics before dental work and certain types of surgery.

Early treatment can help avoid complications. Symptoms might include fever, shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the arms or legs, tiny red spots on the skin and weight loss. Treatment usually involves high-dose antibiotics.

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