Rutgers researchers find heart valve infections increasing in hospitals
People with heart disease or defective or artificial heart valves are at an increased risk of developing a potentially deadly valve infection, according to an article from Medical Xpress in partnership with Rutgers University.
Heart valve infections, called infective endocarditis, are typically caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream through the mouth, gastrointestinal or genitourinary tract, according to the article.
Rutgers researchers reported the emergence of new risk factors for this condition and an increasing number of patients admitted to hospitals for other diseases are at risk of contracting this potentially lethal cardiac infection, according to the article.
The American Heart Association used to recommend that all people at risk for heart valve infections take antibiotics. The guidelines were revised in 2007 to recommend antibiotics only for those determined to be at high risk for infection, according to the article.
The researchers analyzed 21,443 records of people diagnosed with infective endocarditis in New Jersey from 1994 to 2015 to understand how the guideline changes affected the rate of infections, according to the article.
From 2004 to 2015 there was a significant decline in the number of patients hospitalized with infective endocarditis as the primary diagnosis for their reason for admission, according to the article.
There was also a significant increase in the number of patients developing a secondary diagnosis or infective endocarditis in the hospital. In total, 9,191 people were hospitalized with infective endocarditis as the primary diagnosis and 12,252 with secondary diagnosis, according to the article.
Lead author Abel Moreyra, a professor of Medicine at Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said he attributes the decline in primary diagnosis to improved dental care and the low frequency of rheumatic heart disease today. Streptococcus, a bacteria, plays a predominant role in the infection, according to the article.
"However, 60% of infective endocarditis that developed after admission were caused by a different microorganism, staphylococcus bacteria, which is abundant in hospitals and implicates health care as a possible source of infection," Moreyra said, according to the article.
The study, which was published online before print in The American Journal of Cardiology, highlights the need for hospitals to develop ways to prevent this infection in the heart, according to the article.
"In the past, infective endocarditis was associated with rheumatic heart disease and most often caused by bacteria in the mouth," Moreyra said, according to the article.
This important analysis of the different time trends of primary and secondary diagnosis of infective endocarditis can help hospitals tailor different strategies for the prevention of this potentially lethal infection, Moreyra said, according to the article.
"However, new risk factors, such as intravenous opiate abuse, compromised immune systems, hemodialysis and implanted heart devices have emerged,” Moreyra said, according to the article.
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