Heart Infection (Bacterial Endocarditis): Prevention

What is bacterial endocarditis?

Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the thin layer of tissue lining the inside of the heart. The infection can also damage your heart valves. If a heart valve is badly damaged, your heart has to work harder and may get bigger. You may not be able to exercise as much as you used to. The infection could travel from the heart to other parts of the body, causing other problems, such as stroke or damage to the kidneys.

Some heart defects or heart diseases may make it easier for your heart to get infected. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take antibiotics before some procedures to help prevent infection.

When do I need to take antibiotics?

Endocarditis is most often caused by an infection that starts in another part of your body and is spread through your bloodstream to your heart. Procedures that may cause bleeding are more likely to allow bacteria to get into the bloodstream.

Dental work

Your healthcare provider may recommend antibiotics before dental treatments that may cause bleeding in your mouth, such as:

  • Cleaning the teeth
  • Cutting tissue
  • Probing the gums
  • Pulling teeth
  • Putting a tooth back in after it was knocked out
  • Other types of dental surgery

Usually you don’t need to take antibiotics if there will be no bleeding. Dental work that usually does not cause bleeding includes:

  • Filling cavities
  • Getting a shot to numb the mouth
  • Adjusting braces

Medical procedures

Your healthcare provider may recommend antibiotics before surgeries and procedures.

Always talk to your provider if you have any questions and be sure to tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicines.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-11-18
Last reviewed: 2014-10-13
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

Patient Portal

Our Patient Portal provides safe and secure online access to better communicate with your Tufts Medical Center Community Care doctor. This easy-to-use web tool is a convenient way to book appointments, request referrals, renew prescriptions, view medical records/test results and communicate with your healthcare provider from the privacy of your own computer.