Endocarditis

Common symptoms of endocarditis include a high temperature (fever), chills, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss

The symptoms of endocarditis can develop rapidly over the course of a few days (acute endocarditis) or slowly, over the course of a few weeks or possibly months (subacute endocarditis).

Subacute endocarditis is more common in people with congenital heart disease.

Symptoms of endocarditis

The most common symptoms of endocarditis include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • chills
  • night sweats
  • headaches 
  • shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
  • cough
  • heart murmurs – where your heart makes a whooshing or swishing noise between beats 
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • muscle and joint pain 

Other symptoms can include:

  • the appearance of a spotty red rash on the skin (this is known as petechiae)
  • narrow, reddish-brown lines of blood that run underneath the nails
  • painful raised lumps that develop on the fingers and toes
  • painful red spots that develop on the palms of your hand and soles of your feet
  • mental confusion

When to seek medical advice

You should contact your GP as soon as possible if you develop any of the above symptoms, particularly if you're at a higher risk of developing endocarditis, such as having a history of heart disease.

Read more about the causes of endocarditis.

These symptoms are more likely to be caused by a less serious type of infection. However, your doctor will want to investigate.

When to seek emergency medical advice

stroke is one of the most serious complications that can develop from endocarditis.

If you suspect a stroke, you should dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance.

The most effective way to identify the symptoms of a stroke is to remember the word FAST, which stands for:

  • Face – the face may have fallen on one side, the person may be unable to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped
  • Arms – the person may be unable to raise both arms and keep them there as a result of weakness or numbness
  • Speech – the person's speech may be slurred
  • Time – it's time to dial 999 immediately if there are any of these signs or symptoms

Acute
Acute means occurring suddenly or over a short period of time.
Bacteria
Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms that live in the body. Some can cause illness and disease and some others are good for you.
Blood
Blood supplies oxygen to the body and removes carbon dioxide. It is pumped around the body by the heart.
Blood vessels
Blood vessels are the tubes in which blood travels to and from parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are veins, arteries and capillaries.
Fatigue
Fatigue is extreme tiredness and lack of energy.
Fever
A high temperature, also known as a fever, is when someone's body temperature goes above the normal 37°C (98.6°F).
Haemorrhage
To haemorrhage means to bleed or lose blood.
Nodules
A nodule is a small growth or lump of tissue.
Inflammation
Inflammation is the body's response to infection, irritation or injury, which causes redness, swelling, pain and sometimes a feeling of heat in the affected area.
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