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Who Is At Risk for Endocarditis?

Infective endocarditis (IE) is an uncommon condition that can affect both children and adults. It's more common in men than women.

IE typically affects people who have abnormal hearts or other conditions that put them at risk for the infection. Sometimes IE does affect people who were healthy before the infection.

Major Risk Factors

The germs that cause IE tend to attach and multiply on damaged, malformed, or artificial (man-made) heart valves and implanted medical devices. Certain conditions put you at higher risk for IE. These include:

  • Congenital heart defects (defects that are present at birth). Examples include a malformed heart or abnormal heart valves.
  • Artificial heart valves, an implanted medical device in the heart (such as a pacemaker wire), or an intravenous (IV) catheter (tube) in a blood vessel for a long time.
  • Heart valves damaged by rheumatic fever or calcium deposits that cause age-related valve thickening. Scars in the heart from a previous case of IE also can damage heart valves.
  • IV drug use, especially if needles are shared or reused, contaminated substances are injected, or the skin isn't properly cleaned before injection.
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Endocarditis Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Endocarditis, visit

October 01, 2010 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.