How is bacterial endocarditis treated?

Once endocarditis occurs, quick treatment is necessary to prevent damage to the heart valves and more serious complications, such as death. As soon as the blood cultures have been secured the patient is started on intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy (broad spectrum), covering as many as possible of suspected bacterial species. The antibiotics are adjusted to the sensitivity of the organism that grows from the blood culture as soon as that is available. IV antibiotics is usually given for as long as 6 weeks to cure of the infection. Symptoms are monitored throughout therapy and blood cultures are repeated to determine the effectiveness of treatment.

If heart valve and heart damage has occurred, surgery may be required to fix the heart valve and improve heart function.

After treatment is completed, the patient should be worked up for sources of bacteremia and these (for example, dental infections) should be treated. In the future, the patient should take antibiotics prophylactically according to guidelines (see Prevention).

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