People with normal hearts rarely get endocarditis. Those who have certain preexisting heart conditions are at risk for developing endocarditis when bacteria gets in the bloodstream.
Heart conditions that put people at higher risk of endocarditis include:
- artificial (prosthetic) heart valves
- a history of endocarditis
- heart valves damaged (scarred) by rheumatic fever or other heart disease
- some kinds of congenital (at birth) heart defects
- hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart)
- abnormality of the heart valves after a heart transplant
People who’ve had endocarditis before are at high risk of getting it again. This is true even when they don’t have heart disease. Some congenital heart defects can be repaired surgically and the person will no longer have an increased risk for endocarditis. Examples include:
- Ventricular septal defect — The opening between the heart’s two lower chambers can be surgically closed.
- Atrial septal defect — The opening between the heart’s two upper chambers can be surgically closed.- Patent ductus arteriosus — The open passageway between the artery to the lungs and the large artery that takes blood from the heart to the body can be surgically closed.