Endocarditis. Support Heart Health. Supplements To Reduce The Risk

Updated: 9/26/23

Are you looking for ways to support a healthier heart? If so, understanding the risks of endocarditis and proactively taking steps to reduce them is a great place to start. Endocarditis can be a serious condition that affects the valves and lining of your heart, resulting in severe symptoms, disability or death. Though regular check-ups with your physician are essential towards monitoring your heart health, certain supplements may help to lower the risk of developing this infection. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some dietary supplements with proven efficacy in helping one reduce their chances of getting endocarditis and how they work together as part of an overall strategy for better cardiovascular health!

What is Endocarditis?

Endocarditis is an inflammation of the endocardium. The endocardium is a delicate, smooth layer that lines the entire inner surface of the heart. It also gives the heart a glistening appearance. Endocarditis is also called bacterial endocarditis (BE) or infective endocarditis (IE). The infection usually occurs when fungi or bacteria or other germs get into the bloodstream, spread and then settle in damaged areas of the heart, often on a valve. If the condition is not treated quickly, endocarditis can be potentially life threatening and damage the heart valves.

There are three main inflammations that affect heart health and endocarditis is one of them. The second is pericarditis, which occurs when the tissue that forms a sac around the heart becomes inflamed. The last is myocarditis, which occurs when the heart muscle, called the myocardium, becomes inflamed, reducing its ability to pump blood and forcing it to work harder to circulate blood and oxygen.

Endocarditis can occur at any age, including childhood. However, it is more prevalent among older people and those who already have heart problems. Over 25 percent of endocarditis cases in the United States affect people of over 60 years of age. Men are twice as likely to be affected by endocarditis as women. Genetics and lifestyle habits are also factors that increase the risk of endocarditis.

Risk Factors for Endocarditis

Several factors increase the risk of developing endocarditis. For example, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can cause heart damage and exposure to environmental triggers (lead, radiation, etc.) can cause the immune system to mistakenly attack the heart. Additionally, treatments such as radiation therapy or hemodialysis for end-stage kidney disease may also put patients at risk.

Existing Heart Conditions

If you have an existing heart condition, such as an artificial heart valve or a congenital heart defect, you are more likely to develop endocarditis. This is because foreign materials in your heart can provide a breeding ground for bacteria. If you have a heart condition, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene (since oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause endocarditis) and to see your doctor regularly for check-ups.

Intravenous Drug Use

Intravenous drug use can increase the risk of endocarditis. Abusing injectable substances with contaminated or shared needles or syringes increases the risk of infection and introduce bacteria into the bloodstream. Similarly, un-sterilized needles for tattoos or piercings can spread infection.


Usually these infections are bacterial, but in rare cases they may be viral or fungal. For example, Candida and Aspergillus are two of the most common species that cause fungal endocarditis. It is very rare, but it is fatal. Infections occur when pathogens get into the bloodstream and travel to different organs or tissues. If a patient has heart problems, bacteria from other parts of the body—for example from the mouth—can attach to damaged tissues and cause endocarditis.

Most often, the immune system is able to destroy these unwanted microorganisms in the bloodstream. However, in cases when this doesn’t happen and the bacteria reach the heart it usually passes through without leading to an infection. However, under the right circumstances bacteria that live on the skin, gut, throat or mouth can sometimes lead to severe infections and cause endocarditis.

Congenital Heart Defects

Patients born with heart defects are at an increased risk of developing endocarditis. The condition is rare in children, but those with congenital heart defects may be at risk. If a patient has damaged or artificial heart valves or other devices in their heart vessels, they may be more likely to develop endocarditis as well.

Compromised Immune System

Individuals with weakened immune systems, including those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, are more prone to infections, including endocarditis. Individuals with compromised immune systems should take extra precautions to avoid infection, such as avoiding contact with sick individuals, practicing good hygiene, and seeking immediate medical attention if symptoms of infection arise. A Streptococcus vaccine can also be given to people at high risk of invasive infections.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

According to studies, patients with inflammatory bowel disease may be at a higher risk for endocarditis. In 283 subjects, 2 percent of them had IBD, including the two major types, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The researchers concluded that IBD may be an independent risk factor because there are large, more frequent bacterial populations and also causes immunosuppression.


Research states that patients with diabetes are at an increased risk for infections. The study analyzed a study of diabetes patients and infective endocarditis was prevalent among the subjects, independent of kidney failure or valvular abnormalities.


Certain medications may be problematic to the immune system such as antidepressants, diuretics and some weight loss medications. They may trigger the immune system to become hyperactive, causing pericarditis or myocarditis that may damage the heart.

Dental Hygiene

Bacteria can get into the bloodstream from simple activities like brushing your teeth, flossing too hard or any activity that may cause the gums to bleed. Having generally poor dental health can potentially lead to an accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. In addition, dental procedures may cause bacteria buildup, whether they are surgical or nonsurgical.

What is Endocarditis Infection?

Endocarditis infection occurs when germs or bacteria enter the bloodstream and attach themselves to the lining of the heart valves or the heart lining. The most common way for this to happen is through dental procedures, gum disease, and skin infections. The use of injected drugs is also a significant cause of endocarditis infection. People with heart valve problems, congenital heart disease, and artificial heart valves are also at risk of developing endocarditis.

Which Bacteria Causes Endocarditis?

Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that commonly causes endocarditis. It is found in the mouth, throat, and respiratory system, and can enter the bloodstream through dental work, tooth extraction, or even simple activities such as brushing your teeth. If not treated early, Streptococcus endocarditis can cause severe damage to the heart valves and lead to heart failure. Therefore, it is essential to practice good dental hygiene, get regular dental check-ups, and take antibiotics before undergoing dental procedures if you are at risk.

Another type of bacteria that can cause endocarditis is Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria can cause infections throughout the body, including the heart. It is commonly found on the skin and in the nose and can enter the bloodstream through surgical wounds, IV catheters, or from skin infections such as boils. Staphylococcus aureus endocarditis can also lead to heart valve damage and requires appropriate antibiotics as soon as possible to prevent life-threatening complications.

Enterococcus is another type of bacteria that can cause endocarditis. This bacteria is typically found in the digestive tract, genital tract, and urinary system and can enter the bloodstream through procedures such as colonoscopy or surgery. Enterococcus endocarditis can cause severe damage to the heart valves and may require surgical intervention. Preventive measures include good hygiene and thorough cleaning of instruments and equipment used during procedures.

Alpha-hemolytic streptococci are also common bacteria that can cause endocarditis. These types of bacteria are typically found in the mouth and digestive system and can enter the bloodstream through dental work or surgery. Alpha-hemolytic streptococci endocarditis can cause damage to the heart valves and may require prolonged antibiotics. To prevent this type of endocarditis, it is crucial to practice good oral hygiene and get regular dental check-ups.

Endocarditis Risk Factors

Endocarditis Symptoms

The symptoms of endocarditis may develop either suddenly or slowly. It depends on whether there is an underlying heart problem and on the type of infection that causes the problem. The signs and symptoms can also vary from one patient to another. Common symptoms of endocarditis may include loss of appetite, swelling in the feet and legs, nausea, vomiting, swelling in the abdomen, weight gain and bloody urine.

It may also cause symptoms similar to the flu. Fever, chills, night sweats, headaches, fatigue and muscle, bone and joint pain may signal an infection. Patients may also experience respiratory symptoms. The condition causes a cough and shortness of breath, especially while lying down. The patient may have trouble breathing during physical activity and breathing may also cause chest pain.

Experts also describe skin changes that may signal endocarditis, including small, sore red or purple spots on the fingers and toes. The patient may also have painless red spots on the skin, under the fingernails, inside the mouth and on the whites of the eyes. 

Patients who experience any of these symptoms should contact a doctor for an evaluation, especially if they have existing heart issues.

Complications from Endocarditis

Without treatment or if the patient does not receive treatment fast enough, it can cause complications, depending on the patient’s medical history. Endocarditis can cause potentially life-threatening kidney damage and infection. It may also cause a blood clot, blocking the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. Clumps of bacteria can also form on the damaged heart valves. If the bacteria break off, they can travel to the brain, causing meningitis, stroke or brain abscesses. The bacteria may also spread to the lungs and cause lung damage. Other potential complications include:

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Heart attack
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart block or heart valve damage
  • Blood in urine
  • Spleen damage
  • Difficulty breathing with exertion
  • Heart failure
  • Sepsis
  • Death

Can Endocarditis Cause Heart Failure?

If you have been diagnosed with endocarditis, it is important to get immediate treatment to prevent heart failure. Treatment will depend on the severity of the infection and may involve antibiotics, surgery, or other procedures to repair the damaged heart tissue. Regular check-ins with your healthcare provider can help monitor your heart health and prevent heart failure from occurring.

Endocarditis and Sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection causes widespread inflammation. Sepsis can occur as a result of endocarditis, but can also be caused by other infections such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections. The symptoms of sepsis include fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, and confusion. Sepsis can damage organs and lead to shock, which can be fatal.

Prevention of endocarditis and sepsis is critical. Proper hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face, can help prevent the spread of infection. Individuals who are at high risk of developing endocarditis should receive prophylactic antibiotics prior to invasive medical or dental procedures. It’s also essential to maintain good oral health and to avoid sharing personal items that come into contact with bodily fluids.

Treatment for endocarditis and sepsis typically involves a combination of antibiotics and supportive care. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary, and surgery may be required to repair damaged heart valves. If caught early, both conditions can be managed effectively, and individuals can make a full recovery.

Treatment for Endocarditis

There are two types of endocarditis: infective and non-infective. There are also two different forms of infective endocarditis: acute, which develops suddenly and can be fatal within days, and subacute, which develops more gradually. Infective endocarditis is more common. In the non-infective form, blood clots form on the heart valves and endocardium, but they do not contain microorganisms. However, sometimes it can lead to infective endocarditis if microorganisms start to attach and grow inside of the blood clots.

Without treatment, the condition is fatal. The prognosis depends on the patient’s age, how long the infection has been in the body, how much damage it has done, if they have had a replacement heart valve and the type of organism causing the infection. However, most people survive with aggressive antibiotics.


Antibiotic therapy takes anywhere from two to six weeks to complete, depending on the severity of the condition. If the endocarditis is caused by bacteria, it would be treated with intravenous antibiotics. At first, the patient will stay in the hospital for the antibiotics. Sometimes the patient may be able to finish the treatment at home with a nurse to assist. In other cases, the patient may be able to switch to oral antibiotics.

However, if the patient has had a heart valve replacement, antibiotics may not cure the infection because the bacteria that survive the procedure are usually resistant. It is also more difficult to treat the infection on an artificial material than tissue.

Blood-thinning Medications

Blood-thinning medications may be prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming on damaged heart valves. These medications can also reduce the risk of stroke.

Surgery for Endocarditis

If the infection is persistent, the patient may need surgery to replace or repair a damaged valve, remove vegetation or drain abscesses. Patients may also need surgery if a valve leaks or if they have a birth defect that connects one chamber to another. If a catheter or other medical device causes the infection, the surgeon will remove it as well. Patients may also need dental procedures to remove infection from gum or mouth disease.

Treating Non-Infective Endocarditis

In the non-infective form, the surgeon will treat the underlying condition that causes endocarditis. The doctor may prescribe anticoagulants, such as warfarin or heparin, to prevent blood clots. Non-infective endocarditis typically has a poor prognosis because the underlying disorder is usually more serious than the actual heart problem.

Supplements for Heart Health

In addition to traditional pharmaceutical treatment, there are several natural supplements that can help promote heart health. They are not a cure for any heart condition, but they have several benefits for overall health.

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) 

Studies on acetyl L-carnitine supplementation shows its potential to help cut down on the inflammation associated with heart disease, as well as high blood pressure. Researchers have also discovered a link between acetyl L-carnitine and severe heart disorders, such as heart failure and coronary artery disease. In the study, patients with heart disorders showed signs of improvement after taking acetyl L-carnitine along with traditional pharmaceutical treatment.  As a dietary supplement, the standard recommended dosage for acetyl L-carnitine (ALCAR) is 600 mg up to three times a day, with a doctor’s approval.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Research from several studies suggests that alpha lipoic acid may help reduce the risk factors for heart disease. In one study, subjects took an alpha-lipoic acid supplement and it helped improve endothelial dysfunction, a condition that interferes with blood vessel dilation and heightens the risk of heart attack. The recommended dosage for alpha lipoic acid powder is 600 mg once or twice a day with meals. Consult a doctor before taking this supplement.

Beetroot Powder 

A beet is a vegetable with edible roots that have vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Beetroot has several benefits including blood pressure and heart health. Research links it to improved blood pressure and submaximal endurance in older individuals. Additionally, studies conclude that beetroot has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and vascular-protective effects. Beetroot is also available as a supplement. The recommended dosage for beetroot powder is 3,500 to 7,000 mg a day, or following a doctor’s instructions.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) 

CoQ10 is an enzyme found in every cell of the body, but mainly in the heart. It helps produce the energy needed for heart health. CoQ10 levels decrease with age, especially in people with cardiovascular problems. Research has shown that CoQ10 supplementation can improve heart function, reduce oxidative stress, and lower inflammation. Supplementing with CoQ10 can help restore levels and reduce the risk of heart failure and improve heart function.


Magnesium is another vital nutrient that supports heart health. This mineral plays a role in regulating heart rhythm and blood pressure. Research has found that magnesium supplementation can help improve heart function, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure. Some good sources of magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital nutrients that have been shown to support heart health. These essential fatty acids are not produced by the body, which means that the only way to obtain them is through diet or supplementation. Omega-3s support heart health by decreasing inflammation, reducing blood pressure, and lowering triglycerides. Some excellent sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, and fish oil supplements.

Bottom Line

Endocarditis develops from inflammation in the heart lining. There are two forms: infective and non-infective. It may be caused by foreign pathogens, such as bacteria, that enter the bloodstream and causes infection. In rare cases, it may be the result of a fungi or virus. Infective endocarditis is caused by bacteria in the bloodstream, while non-infective endocarditis causes blood clots on the heart valve, but they do not initially contain microorganisms.

Symptoms may be similar to the flu, causing a fever, night sweats and chills. They may also affect the respiratory system, causing a cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing. It may also cause spleen and kidney damage, stroke, heart attack, sepsis and death. Without treatment, endocarditis is fatal. 

Most patients recover from infective endocarditis if they receive treatment with aggressive antibiotics or surgery to replace or repair damaged heart valves. Physicians use anticoagulants to treat non-infective endocarditis, in order to address the underlying condition that causes inflammation. However, the prognosis is much lower than the infective form.

Supplementation can be an excellent way to support heart health alongside a healthy lifestyle. Always talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements. Remember, supplements are not a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet, and stress management are the foundation of good heart health. Add these heart-healthy supplements to your daily routine to support a healthy heart. Remember that prevention is always better than cure, and that seeking medical advice, supplementation, and care is essential if you suspect you may have endocarditis or are at risk of developing it. Stay healthy and stay informed!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Author: BulkSupplements Staff