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Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium).

Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart. Left untreated, endocarditis can damage or destroy your heart valves and can lead to life-threatening complications. Treatments for endocarditis include antibiotics and, in severe cases, surgery.

Endocarditis is uncommon in people with healthy hearts. People at greatest risk of endocarditis have a damaged heart valve, an artificial heart valve or other heart defects.

Aug. 11, 2011