Washington: A new research has found that people with any heart disease or artificial heart valves are at increased risk of developing deadly valve infection.
The study was published in the journal, ‘American Journal of Cardiology.’
The report also noted that new risk factors for this condition have emerged and an increasing number of patients admitted to hospitals for other diseases are at risk of contracting this potentially lethal cardiac infection.
The study highlights the need for hospitals to develop ways to prevent the growth of this serious infection in the heart.
The American Heart Association had recommended that people who are at risk of developing heart valve infections (infective endocarditis) to take strong antibiotics.
In 2007, the guidelines were revised to recommend antibiotics only for those determined to be at high risk for infection.
Lead author Abel Moreyra, professor of Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said, “In the past, infective endocarditis was associated with rheumatic heart disease and most often caused by bacteria in the mouth.
However, new risk factors, such as intravenous opiate abuse, compromised immune systems, hemodialysis, and implanted heart devices have emerged.”
To understand the study and how guideline changes affected the rate of infections, the researchers analysed 21,443 records of people who were diagnosed with infective endocarditis in New Jersey hospitals from 1994 to 2015.
They made a startling discovery: Beginning in 2004 and continuing thereafter, there was a significant decline in the number of patients hospitalised with infective endocarditis as the primary diagnosis for their reason for admission and a significant increase in the number of patients developing the infection in the hospital, or a secondary diagnosis. In total, 9,191 people were hospitalized with infective endocarditis as the primary diagnosis and 12,252 with the secondary diagnosis.
Moreyra attributes the decline in primary diagnosis to improved dental care and the rarity today of rheumatic heart disease, where streptococcus plays a predominant role in the infection.
“However, 60 percent 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,” he concluded.