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Question:

After a bout with bacterial endocarditis, scar tissue often stiffens the edges of the heart valves.?

How would this affect the functioning of the heart valves?How would this be detected in a routine examination?

Answer:

If the heart valves are damaged, they may leak, causing regurgitation of blood. For example, if the mitral valve (between the left atrium and left ventricle) leaks, blood will leak back into the left atrium when the ventricle contracts. This reduces the efficiency of the heart contraction. Regurgitation is easily detected by echocardiography. On routine physical exam it may be detected *if* there is enough leakage/ flow abnormality to cause an audible sound, or murmur, that your physician can hear with his/her stethoscope.
Endocarditis is usually caused by bacteria. When symptoms are prevalent, blood cultures are done to detect what sort of bacteria is present. Many types of bacteria can cause endocarditis. Normally, blood flows smoothly through heart valves. But if they have been damaged, by some other medical condition, defense mechanisms (such as white blood cells) cannot enter the valves. Then bacteria can have a chance to take a hold on these valves. So if bacteria establishes a hold on the valves, the body cannot get rid of them. Antibiotics can be used to treat the infection. If antibiotics does not work, then the infected valves are removed surgically and replaced with transplants or artificial valves. I hope this helps. good luck

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