Endocarditis and mitral valve stenosis or mitral valve regurgitation

Infective endocarditis may cause mitral valve stenosis or mitral valve regurgitation (MR), or it may be a complication of either of these diseases.

As a cause

While an infection in the heart (infective endocarditis) is a common cause of other valve conditions, it is rarely responsible for mitral valve stenosis.

When bacteria begin to grow on the mitral valve or inside the heart, they form a colony, known as a vegetation, which may grow to be several centimeters in size. When growing on the valve, they can block its opening, causing stenosis, or more commonly they scar the valve, making it difficult for the valve to close completely, causing regurgitation. Vegetations can also cause a perforation, leading to acute mitral valve regurgitation, which requires emergency treatment.

As a complication

If you have an artificial valve, getting endocarditis could be very dangerous for you. The artificial valve gives bacteria a place to move in, attach, and grow. When bacteria settle in, they expand and clump together, becoming a larger mass attached to your heart muscle or valve. As these clumps of bacteria become larger, pieces are likely to break off. These pieces that break off act much like a blood clot and can block your arteries, causing a heart attack or stroke. They can also spread the infection throughout your body by traveling through your bloodstream.

Certain dental or surgical procedures could introduce bacteria into your blood and put you at risk for endocarditis. So to prevent an infection, you may need to take antibiotics before these procedures.

If you develop an infection, endocarditis can be treated with intravenous antibiotics. This will be in much larger doses than the oral antibiotics you take to prevent infection, and it will be given for a much longer period of time. A typical course of antibiotics to treat endocarditis is daily for four to six weeks, compared to one dose before surgery and one dose afterwards for preventive purposes.

For more information, see the topic Endocarditis.

Last Updated: February 12, 2010

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