AHA Issues Scientific Statement On Infective Endocarditis

American Heart Association Journal Report:

DALLAS, Dec. 22 -- The American Heart Association today issues a new scientific statement that updates the procedures for diagnosing and treating infective endocarditis, a life-threatening heart infection that can be caused by common microbes such as streptococcus or "strep."

The statement by the AHA's Committee on Rheumatic Fever, Endocarditis and Kawasaki Disease is published in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Infective endocarditis (IE) occurs when bacteria or fungus cause severe infections in the inner lining of the heart or heart valves, leading to tissue damage or destruction. Antibiotics can usually treat the bacterial infections, but if the disease is not detected, the infection can gradually destroy the heart lining or heart valves. Also, clumps of the bacteria can break off and travel through the blood vessels to other organs, including the brain. This can cause serious injury to these organs or even death.

About 20,000-30,000 people develop IE, a disease that represents the fourth leading cause of life-threatening infections such as pneumonia, according to Kathryn A. Taubert, Ph.D., senior scientist in the AHA's department of science and medicine and a co-author of the statement.

Individuals at risk for IE include people with certain defects of the heart present at birth, heart valve disorders, mitral valve prolapse, a history of rheumatic heart disease, or anyone who has an artificial heart valve.

Individuals who are intravenous drug abusers are also at high risk for IE. The statement is the first from the American Heart Association to recommend the set of diagnostic criteria for IE developed by researchers at Duke University Medical Center. The previous diagnostic criteria relied on tests that measured bacteremia (high amounts of bacteria in the blood), regurgitant murmur (a heart abnormality) and blood vessel complications. The ne

Contact: Brian Henry
American Heart Association

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