Infective endocarditis can be a difficult problem to diagnose but must be considered in the differential diagnosis of fever, especially in patients with a history of cardiac valvular disorders. It is caused by microbial infection of the cardiac valves or endocardium. Previously referred to as bacterial endocarditis, the term infective endocarditis is preferred because not all the infecting organisms are bacteria.
It may present as a fulminating or acute infection but more commonly runs an insidious course and is referred to as subacute (bacterial) endocarditis. Its incidence is increasing, probably due to the increasing number of elderly people with degenerative valve disease, more invasive procedures, IV drug use and increased cardiac catheterisation. 4
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