Endocarditis can cause several major complications:

  • Stroke and organ damage. In endocarditis, clumps of bacteria and cell fragments (vegetations) form in your heart at the site of the infection. These clumps can break loose and travel to your brain, lungs, abdominal organs, kidneys or extremities. This may cause various problems, including stroke or damage to other organs or tissues.
  • Infections in other parts of your body. Endocarditis can cause you to develop pockets of collected pus (abscesses) in other parts of your body, including the brain, kidneys, spleen or liver. An abscess may develop in the heart muscle itself as well, causing an abnormal heartbeat. Severe abscesses may require surgery to treat them.
  • Heart failure. Left untreated, endocarditis can damage your heart valves and permanently destroy your heart's inner lining. This can cause your heart to work harder to pump blood, eventually causing heart failure — a chronic condition in which your heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. If the infection progresses untreated, it's usually fatal.
Jun. 14, 2014

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