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Endocarditis (say “en-doh-kar-DY-tus”) is an infection of the heart’s valves or inner lining of the heart. It is most often caused by bacteria. It also can be caused by fungi. The bacteria or fungi get into the bloodstream. They settle and grow on the inside of the heart, usually on the heart valves. Bacteria or fungi can enter the bloodstream in many ways, such as injecting drugs and having some dental and medical procedures.

This infection can damage your heart. You need to treat it as soon as possible.

People who have a normal heart are not likely to get endocarditis. But some people are more likely to get it than others. This includes people who have a heart problem that affects normal blood flow, such as a heart valve problem, or people who inject illegal drugs.

Endocarditis can be very serious. It may be more dangerous for people who:

  • Have had a heart valve replaced or repaired.
  • Have had this kind of infection before.
  • Have had certain heart problems since birth.
  • Have heart valve problems after a heart transplant.