Heart infections occur when irritants such as bacteria, viruses and fungi infect your heart. The types of heart infections are endocarditis, myocarditis and pericarditis. Providers often treat heart infections with medication, though you may need surgery for serious infections. Prompt treatment can help increase your quality of life.
A heart infection can happen when microbes or other irritants invade your heart. The infections are most commonly caused by bacteria, viruses, and less commonly, by fungi. A heart infection can damage or inflame your heart. The parts of the heart most often damaged by infection include the:
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Three main types of infection can affect your heart. These heart infections are:
Serious heart infections are rare for most people. But heart infections are more common for people who:
Causes of a heart infection vary by type. The most common causes for each include:
Less common causes of pericarditis include:
Less common causes of myocarditis include:
Heart infection symptoms vary from person to person, depending upon the disease. Many heart infections include these common symptoms:
Endocarditis is the only type of heart infection that has a heart murmur as a symptom. Your provider can hear a specific sound when blood flows through your heart. Less common symptoms of endocarditis include:
To help diagnose your condition, your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and family history. Your provider will listen to your heart with a stethoscope to check for a heart murmur. You may have:
Treatment for a heart infection depends on the cause and severity of your symptoms. Providers often treat heart infections with medications. Depending on the type of heart infection, treatments may include:
People with severe heart infections may need heart surgery if other treatments don’t help. The type of surgery depends on the kind of heart infection you have. The most serious infections may require a heart transplant or heart valve surgery.
You may not be able to prevent a heart infection, but you can lower your risk by staying healthy. Steps you can take include:
You are at higher risk for a heart infection if you have a history of:
The prognosis for people with heart infections varies depending on the specific disease and severity of the disease. Many types of heart infection can cause complications over time, especially if not treated promptly. Complications can include:
Getting the right treatment and support for a heart infection can lead to a longer, healthier life. Treatment can also help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
See your provider if you have any new symptoms or if your symptoms worsen. Seek medical treatment immediately if you have:
To understand this condition, you may want to ask:
If you see a new doctor or dentist, always tell them if you have a heart infection. This will help them to better monitor your heart health and overall wellness.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you or a loved one has a heart infection, talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. You can often control a heart infection with medications and sometimes with surgery. If you have a cut or skin infection that doesn’t heal, loss of consciousness or shortness of breath, seek help immediately.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/08/2021.
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