Endocarditis is inflammation of the lining and valves of the heart. It is often from an infectious source and can cause disorders of the valves and life threatening arrhythmias. Vegetations can form because of bacteria adhering to valves, which can then become embolic – causing heart attacks or strokes.
The two most common causes are IV drug use (because of the introduction of bacteria into the vascular system) and artificial valve replacement (because the bacteria tend to adhere to the artificial device).
To treat the cause and remove the source of infection while preserving cardiac output and preventing any major (or minor) complications.
Patients with endocarditis may develop valve disorders – listen for heart murmurs or extra sounds.
There is a significant connection between oral health and pericarditis. Bacteria can travel to the heart easily from the oral cavity. Patients should brush their teeth twice daily to prevent complications.
Endocarditis is almost always a bacterial source, therefore, IV antibiotics will be required to treat the infection. Be sure to obtain blood cultures prior to initiating antibiotics.
The provider may order anticoagulant therapy to prevent further collection of platelets or clots around the valves and to prevent major complications from emboli.
Depending on the medication, the therapy may require monitoring. For example IV Heparin requires PTT monitoring.
Patients are at risk for embolic complications. SCD’s or TED hose can help prevent DVT’s from developing. This can help to prevent pulmonary embolism.
The vegetation on the valves is at risk for breaking off and becoming lodged in smaller vessels. This includes risk for Stroke, MI, Pulmonary Embolism, but also damage to the smaller vessels in the extremities, hands, and feet.
Endocarditis is an infectious process, therefore infection control is imperative. They need to be taught hand hygiene as well as other infection precautions. They should also be taught s/s of infection to report to their provider.
Because the patient is at high risk for recurrence and complications, it’s important that they notify other providers of their history of endocarditis. They may require prophylactic antibiotics prior to any invasive procedures and they should avoid dental procedures for at least 6 months after their hospitalization.
For more information, visit www.nursing.com/cornell
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