TUESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with a condition called infective endocarditis, coupled with heart failure, heart valve surgery can reduce the risk of dying by nearly two-thirds, a new study suggests.
Infective endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart that often includes the heart valves, has been associated with a high risk of death. Previous studies have found that in-hospital mortality can be as high as 20 percent and death after a year can reach 40 percent.
"Cardiac surgery during hospitalization for infective endocarditis is associated with significantly lower in-hospital and one-year mortality, compared to medical therapy [drug therapy] alone, even for heart failure which is mild or moderate in severity," said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Wang, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Duke University.
About one-third of patients with endocarditis experience heart failure as a complication, which is typically advanced or severe in degree and due to an acute heart valve problem, he said.
"Nearly two-thirds of patients with this complication undergo surgery during the initial hospitalization, and surgery is associated with lower mortality at one year," Wang added.
Patients with endocarditis and mild heart failure should be evaluated by a team of specialists for possible cardiac surgery, he noted. "Increased use of cardiac surgery for patients with this complication may lower the mortality rate in endocarditis," Wang said.
The study was published in the Nov. 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For the study, Wang's team looked at data from more than 4,000 patients with endocarditis of a heart valve from June 2000 to December 2006, in 61 hospitals in 28 countries.
Among patients with chest X-rays available, 33 percent had heart failure and 67 percent of these patien
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