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JAMA Patient Page
September 5, 2012

Antibiotics to Prevent Infective Endocarditis

JAMA. 2012;308(9):935. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6918

Infective endocarditis is an infection inside the chambers of the heart or on the heart valves. Infectious endocarditis may be triggered by a clot forming on the lining of the heart or on one of its valves in response to damage on the valve surface. Once this clot forms, bacteria that may be present in the bloodstream (bacteremia) can stick to the clot and proliferate (multiply) within it, eventually interfering with the heart's function.

Bacteremia is a normal occasional result of daily activities such as brushing your teeth or other activities such as medical and dental procedures. The surfaces of the mouth, urinary tract, and gastrointestinal tract have many different kinds of bacteria growing on them. Any procedure that breaks down this surface can temporarily shower the bloodstream with bacteria, which are usually killed by the body's immune system.

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