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Editor's e-Note
According to researchers at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, new risk factors are driving an increase in heart valve infections. The study, published in The American Journal of Cardiology, notes that infective endocarditis has typically been caused by oral bacteria. But new risk factors, according to the study’s lead author, Abel Moreyra, MD, a professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, include compromised immune systems, intravenous opiate abuse, hemodialysis, and implanted heart devices.

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— Kate Jackson, editor
e-News Exclusive
Rising Rates of Heart Valve Infections Point to Need for Prevention

People with heart disease or defective or artificial heart valves are at increased risk of developing a potentially deadly valve infection. Rutgers University researchers report that new risk factors for this condition have emerged and that an increasing number of patients admitted to hospitals for other diseases are at risk of contracting this potentially lethal cardiac infection.

The study, published in The American Journal of Cardiology, highlights the need for hospitals to develop ways to prevent this serious infection in the heart.

The American Heart Association had recommends that all people at risk for heart valve infections (infective endocarditis)—typically caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream through the mouth or via the gastrointestinal or genitourinary tract—take antibiotics. In 2007, the guidelines were revised to recommend antibiotics only for those determined to be at high risk for infection.

“In the past, infective endocarditis was associated with rheumatic heart disease and most often caused by bacteria in the mouth,” says lead author Abel Moreyra, MD, a professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “However, new risk factors, such as intravenous opiate abuse, compromised immune systems, hemodialysis, and implanted heart devices have emerged.”

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