WEDNESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- People with an advanced form of a heart infection called endocarditis may do better if they undergo early surgery than if they are treated with antibiotics initially, a new study suggests.
Infective or bacterial endocarditis occurs when bacteria settles in the heart lining or heart valve. In advanced cases, the abnormal bacterial growth, often called vegetation, can be large enough to break off and travel elsewhere in the body, such as to the brain, where it may cause a stroke. Advanced infective endocarditis can also damage the heart valve.
People with existing heart disease or heart-valve problems are most likely to develop endocarditis.
In a new study published June 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers evaluated close to 80 people, average age 47, with advanced infective endocarditis.
Of these, 37 had early surgery within 48 hours of their diagnosis, and 39 received conventional therapy with antibiotics while they were monitored to see if the infection abated. Thirty people placed in the conventional treatment group eventually had surgery.
Early surgery reduced the risk of developing an embolism (or clot) and did not increase the risk of in-hospital death, the study showed.
After six months, the rate of adverse events, including death, repeat hospitalization for congestive heart failure or a recurrence of endocarditis, was 3 percent in the early-surgery group versus 28 percent in the conventionally treated patients.
"Early surgery can be the preferred option to further improve clinical outcomes of infective endocarditis, which is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality," said study author Dr. Duk-Hyun Kang, a cardiologist at University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.
"If a patient with infective endocarditis has large vegetations and severe val
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