Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you're at risk of endocarditis, let all of your health care providers know. You may want to request an endocarditis wallet card from the American Heart Association. Check with your local chapter or print the card from the association's website.

Prevention

You can help prevent endocarditis in several ways, including:

  • Know the signs and symptoms of endocarditis. See your doctor immediately if you develop any signs or symptoms, especially a fever that won't go away, unexplained fatigue, any type of skin infection, or open cuts or sores that don't heal properly.
  • Pay special attention to your dental health — brush and floss your teeth and gums often, and have regular dental checkups.
  • Avoid procedures that may lead to skin infections, such as body piercings or tattoos.

Preventive antibiotics

Certain dental and medical procedures may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. For some people with heart disease or damaged or diseased heart valves, taking antibiotics before these procedures can help destroy or control the harmful bacteria that may lead to endocarditis. This is because these people are more at risk of developing endocarditis after having these procedures.

In the past, doctors gave antibiotics to many people before dental or other surgical procedures, such as procedures involving the intestinal or urinary tracts, even if they weren't at high risk of developing endocarditis. However, antibiotics are no longer recommended before all dental or other surgical procedures, or for all people. As doctors have learned more about endocarditis prevention, they've realized endocarditis is much more likely to occur from exposure to random germs than from a standard dental exam or surgery.

If you're at risk of endocarditis, let your doctor and dentist know before having any dental work. They will decide whether you need antibiotics before any dental procedures.

It's still important to take good care of your teeth through brushing and flossing, since doctors have some concern that infections in your mouth from poor oral hygiene might increase the risk of germs entering your bloodstream. In addition to brushing and flossing, regular dental exams are an important part of maintaining good oral health.