Most cases of endocarditis can be treated with a course of antibiotics. You'll usually have to be admitted to hospital so the antibiotics can be given through a drip in your arm (intravenously).
While you're in hospital, regular blood samples will be taken to see how well the treatment is working.
Once your fever and any severe symptoms subside, you may be able to leave hospital and continue taking your antibiotics at home.
If you're taking antibiotics at home, you should have regular appointments with your GP to check that the treatment is working and you're not experiencing any side effects.
Depending on the severity of your condition, you'll usually have to take antibiotics for 2 to 6 weeks.
Your doctor will usually take a blood sample before prescribing antibiotics to make sure you're given the most effective treatment.
If your symptoms are particularly severe, you may be prescribed a mixture of different antibiotics before the results of the blood samples. This is a precautionary measure to prevent your symptoms becoming worse.
If your blood sample shows that fungi are causing your infection, you'll be prescribed an antifungal medicine.
Endocarditis can cause serious damage to your heart. You may be referred to a cardiologist, a specialist in diseases of the heart and blood vessels, so your heart can be assessed more thoroughly.
You may need surgery to repair damage to the heart.
Surgery will usually be recommended if:
- your symptoms or test results suggest you have experienced heart failure, a serious condition where your heart's not pumping blood around your body efficiently
- you continue to have a high temperature (fever) despite treatment with antibiotics or antifungals
- your endocarditis is caused by particularly aggressive fungi or drug-resistant bacteria
- you experience 1 or more blood clots despite treatment with antibiotics or antifungals
- you have an artificial (prosthetic) heart valve
- the results of your echocardiogram suggest that a collection of pus (abscess) or an abnormal passageway (fistula) has developed inside your heart
The 3 main surgical procedures used to treat endocarditis are:
- repair of the damaged heart valve
- replacement of the damaged heart valves with prosthetic ones
- draining of any abscesses and repair of any fistulas that may have developed in the heart muscle
Page last reviewed: 27 February 2019
Next review due: 27 February 2022