To diagnose endocarditis, your GP will look closely at your medical history, paying particular attention to any problems you may have had with your heart.
Taking a medical history also allows your GP to identify whether you've undergone any recent medical procedures that may have put you at risk of developing endocarditis, such as surgery to the heart valves.
Your GP will check for the symptoms of endocarditis , such as fever or nodules (small lumps) on your fingers and toes.
They'll also listen to your heart using a stethoscope to see if you've developed a heart murmur. A heart murmur is where your heartbeat has an extra, or unusual, sound caused by a disturbed blood flow through the heart.
The symptoms of endocarditis are similar to those of other conditions, so it's important that other possible causes are ruled out. Sometimes, you may be referred for further tests.
Blood tests may be used to help diagnose endocarditis, or to help identify the most effective treatment. Blood tests may include:
ESR and CRP tests can be used to check for inflammation. About 90% of endocarditis patients have an elevated ESR or CRP.
The waves can produce accurate images of the heart muscle, chambers and valves. This allows your doctor to examine the structure and function of your heart more closely.
An echocardiogram is often used to check for any clumps of bacteria that may have formed, and can help detect infected or damaged heart tissue.
These scans can be performed by either:
The transoesophageal echo allows much clearer images of your heart as the gullet is just behind the heart.
A computerised tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to take pictures of the inside of your body. A computer is then used to piece the images together.
A CT scan can be useful for identifying any abscesses (collections of pus) that may have developed in your body.
Endocarditis is a rare and potentially fatal type of heart infection. It's specifically an infection of the inner lining of the heart (the endocardium).
Common symptoms of endocarditis include a high temperature (fever), chills, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
If your heart valves are damaged, or if you have an artificial valve, it will be easier for bacteria to take root and trigger an infection.
To diagnose endocarditis, your GP will look closely at your medical history, paying particular attention to any problems that you may have had with your heart.
Most cases of endocarditis can be treated with a course of antibiotics though you may have to be admitted to hospital
If you have an increased risk of developing endocarditis, it is important that you limit your exposure to any infection that could trigger it.