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Infections that Affect the Lining of the Heart

Marlene Alphonse Sep 30, 2018
The lining of the heart, filled with fluid, protects it from damage due to strong vibrations. This sac may get affected due to infections. It must be promptly treated to avoid problems.
The heart is the most vital organ of the human body. It is a muscular organ and is the center of the circulatory system. Its main function is blood circulation throughout the body. Furthermore, it is covered by a double-layered sac filled with fluid for protection from any shocks and vibrations.
This membrane or the sac around the heart is called the pericardium or pericardial sac. The fluid that acts as a shock absorber is known as the pericardial fluid. The word 'pericardium' is taken from the Greek words peri meaning 'around' and kardia that means 'heart'.
The inner lining of the heart is called the endocardium. Due to certain bacteria and viruses, both the inner and outer lining, covering the heart may get infected with diseases.

Infections Affecting the Heart's Lining

The inner and outer lining are sometimes attacked by certain harmful bacteria that can hamper the proper functioning of the heart.


The inflammation of the inner lining of the heart is called endocarditis. This disease causes the inflammation of the heart chambers and heart valve, so this disease is also called valve infection. This heart disease, usually affects the prosthetic valves (the mitral valve and the pulmonary valve).
There are two types - infective endocarditis and non-infective endocarditis. Infective endocarditis, which was also known as bacterial endocarditis, occurs when the bacteria or other harmful germs enter the body and spread to the heart through the blood stream.
This infestation of bacteria can lead to damage of the heart and can cause several life-threatening complications. Non-infective endocarditis on the other hand, is caused due to the mechanical trauma that occurs due to cardiac catheters during cardiac procedures and other autoimmune disease symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of the presence of this disease are fever followed by chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, sudden and unexplained weight loss, aching joints, and swelling in the body parts like abdomen, feet and hands. Endocarditis is also caused due to some fungi but in rare cases, and the exact cause is not known.
The complications of the inner lining infection are heart failure, damage to the other organs of the body, and stroke. This medical condition can be treated with the help of some antibiotics that are administered intravenously.
In some cases, where the disease has spread to the other valves in the heart, surgery is considered an option, where the infected part is removed and replaced by a vein taken from the thighs.


Pericarditis is another type of heart disease that affects the pericardium. It causes irritation and swelling of the pericardial sac, leading to chest pain. The inflammation of the pericardium leads to the increase of the pericardial fluid which tends to squeeze the heart and restrict its pumping.
Pericarditis is often seen in men who are aged between 20 to 50. Though the exact cause in some cases is not known, it can occur due to viral infections, renal failure, tuberculosis (TB), and some bacterial infections.
The symptoms of this disorder are a stabbing or pricking pain in the left side of the chest which may spread to the left side of the body, chronic fatigue syndrome, and dry cough. In order to detect this disorder, the individual may have to undergo an MRI scan.
Certain medications like corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to treat this medical condition. In severe cases, the individual may have to undergo a surgery known as pericardiectomy to remove the constricted pericardium.
One should get rid of unhealthy habits like smoking, alcoholism, and drugs, to have a healthy heart that is free from diseases. This will not only ensure its proper functioning but also keep the lining of the heart strong and healthy.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.