Medical Essay on Endocarditis

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Sewanee University of the South
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Endocarditis refers to an infection that occurs in the inner lining of the heart. This disease happens if bacteria spread through the bloodstream and get attached to the damaged heart areas (MFMER, 2017). If not treated, the disease can damage the heart valves. Moreover, it can result in significant complications. This paper discusses the impact endocarditis, the nursing process and treatment methods.

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Endocarditis is triggered by bacteria within the bloodstream which multiplies before spreading to the inner lining of the heart. The inner lining is inflamed in turn destroying the heart valves (NHS, 2016). There can be the rapid development of symptoms usually in a few days, and this is called acute endocarditis, or in a few weeks and this is referred to as subacute endocarditis. Subacute endocarditis is prevalent among those suffering from congenital heart disease. The main symptoms of this illness include chills, pain in the muscles and joints, a high temperature, fatigue, headaches, cough and difficulty in breathing among others (MFMER, 2017).

Failure to treat endocarditis can result in different complications. One is stroke and damage to the heart. In this case, bacterial clumps form in the heart at the infection area (MFMER, 2017). The clumps could break free and get to the major organs like the brain, kidneys or the lungs. This might, in turn, lead to different problems like stroke or destruction of organs. Failure to treat this disease can also cause infections in other body parts. Endocarditis could make one develop abscesses in other areas of the body like the liver, brains and even the spleen. Moreover, there could be the development of an abscess in the heart muscles, resulting in an abnormal heartbeat. When abscesses become severe, surgery might be required (MFMER, 2017). The other complication that could arise from endocarditis is heart failure. The disease can destroy heart valves if left untreated. Moreover, it can cause permanent destruction to the inner lining of the heart. This could in turn force the heart to strain to pump blood, leading to heart failure. Heart failure in this regard refers to a condition where the heart is not in a position to pump sufficient blood to tackle the body needs (MFMER, 2017). The infection could be fatal if it is not treated.

Treatment of endocarditis will require a thorough diagnosis. This disease can be diagnosed based on the medical history of an individual and the symptoms. Through the use of the stethoscope, the doctor could perceive an alteration in heart murmur, and this might be a sign of the disease (MFMER, 2017). During the early stages, the infection could mimic other conditions. Different nursing processes might be required for diagnosis. One is blood tests (AHA, 2016). Here, blood culture helps in identifying bacteria within the bloodstream. Also, blood tests could assist in identifying some conditions like anaemia which could be a sign of this disease. Another method is transesophageal echocardiogram which employs sound waves to generate images of a functional heart (MFMER, 2017). This kind of echocardiogram helps in providing a closer examination of the heart valves. It is often used to examine signs of an infection. An ultrasound tool is passed into the oesophagus via the mouth in the course of the test.

Electrocardiogram can also be used (NHS, 2016). This noninvasive test can be ordered when the doctor believes the disease could be resulting in an irregular heartbeat. In the course of this test, sensors which can detect the heart's electrical activity are attached to the chest and in the limbs. An electrocardiogram determines the timing and length of every electrical stage in one's heartbeat. Moreover, X-ray images can help in revealing the conditions of the heart and lungs. X-ray images could be used to establish whether endocarditis has caused enlargement of the heart or whether there has been infection spread to the lungs (MFMER, 2017). The last method that can be used to diagnose this disease is computerized tomography scan. One might require CT scan of different body parts including the chest and the brain when the doctor suspects that these areas have been infected. After these nursing processes, various treatment alternatives can be adopted.

The first treatment step of this disease is antibiotics (AHA, 20160. In other cases, when an infection causes the destruction of the heart valve, surgery is needed. When beginning with antibiotics, it is noted that those diagnosed with this disease might require high levels of intravenous antibiotics. Blood tests could assist in identifying the kind of microorganism infecting the heart. Some of the antibiotics include a combination of amoxicillin and gentamicin, ampicillin and gentamicin, vancomycin and gentamicin. Through this information, the doctor will be able to select the right antibiotic to counter the infection. Antibiotics will be taken for 2-6 weeks or even longer remove the infection. The moment the symptoms have been alleviated, one can be discharged from the hospital and process with intravenous antibiotic therapy. The doctor must be seen on a constant basis to guarantee the efficiency of treatment (MFMER, 2017). Symptoms showing that the disease is worsening must be reported to the doctor including fever, breathing difficulties, chills, pain in the joints and headaches. The doctor should also be called in the event of diarrhoea and itching which could be side effects of taking antibiotics. Furthermore, the physician's attention must be sought in the case of breathing difficulties and inflammation of the legs as these signs could portray heart failure.

Another method that can be used to treat endocarditis is surgery (NHS, 2016). Supposing the heart valves are damaged by infection, one could experience symptoms and complications even after treatment. In other cases, surgery is required to treat frequent infections. Surgery can also be needed to replace a valve which is destroyed. Surgery can also be required to deal with this disease which is caused by a fungal infection. Based on the condition, the healthcare professional could recommend having the damaged valve repaired or replacing it using an artificial valve which is made from animal tissue (MFMER, 2017). It can also be done from human-made materials.

In summary, it is clear that endocarditis can pose life-threatening complications if it is left untreated. In preventing this disease, good hygiene must be encouraged. This will mean focusing on one's dental health which includes regular brushing of the teeth in addition to constant dental checkups. It will also mean avoiding processes which could result in skin infections like tattoos. Finally, it is important to seek quick medical attention when one develops any form of skin infection or experiences open cuts that take long to heal.


American Heart Association {AHA}. (2016). Heart valves and Infective Endocarditis. Retrieved

from Foundation for Medical Education and Research {MFMER}. (2017). Endocarditis.

Retrieved from

NHS. (2016). Endocarditis. Retrieved from

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