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Prevention of Endocarditis

What is Endocarditis?

Sub acute bacterial endocarditis (en-doh-kar-DIE-tis) or SBE is a serious infection of the lining of the heart and can lead to damage of heart valves and muscle if not treated properly. Endocarditis is caused from bacteria or germs entering the bloodstream. Children with heart disease are at higher risk for getting endocarditis than other children.

How is it prevented?

It is much easier to prevent endocarditis than it is to treat it. That is why it is important to prevent endocarditis whenever possible. Antibiotics are used to prevent endocarditis in children at times when there is greater risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream. Some common situations include dental work or cleaning and many operations in body areas that often have bacteria like the intestinal, genital or urinary systems. It is not necessary to use antibiotics for endocarditis prevention on a daily basis.

Usually, a large dose of antibiotic, such as amoxicillin or erythromycin, is given one hour before a scheduled dental visit or surgery. Specific instructions should be obtained from your physician, cardiologist or dentist. The amount of medicine necessary will change as your child grows. It is very important to schedule regular dental visits and to use antibiotics for each dental visit. In case of accidental injury, antibiotics may be prescribed for use during the initial healing period. It is not necessary to use antibiotics for minor scrapes, bruises, immunizations or colds since there is not a great risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream. A card from the American Heart Association with information about antibiotics for prevention of endocarditis is available from your cardiologist.

2006: Information reviewed and approved by Laura Bell, RN, MSN, PNP Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Lynda Dettling RN, BSN.

 

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