Discharge Instructions for Infective Endocarditis (IE)

You have been diagnosed with infective endocarditis (IE). This is an infection of the lining of the heart or of the heart valves. It happens when bacteria enter the bloodstream and go to the heart. The bacteria then cause infection in the heart. The bacteria can enter your bloodstream in a number of ways. It may happen during a dental procedure. It can happen through a cut. Or the bacteria can come from an infection elsewhere in the body. Your infection was treated in the hospital with strong antibiotics through an IV. This sheet will help you take care of yourself at home. This is a very serious infection and can be life threatening if not properly managed and cared for.

Home care

  • You may need to continue IV therapy for up to 6 weeks at home. You will be given more instructions before you leave the hospital. Make sure to ask any questions you have. Your healthcare team will determine how long you should be on antibiotics and how often you should have follow up testing.

  • Take the antibiotics until they are all gone. Take them even if you feel better. They treat the infection and prevent it from returning.

  • Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Take good care of your teeth and mouth. Brush your teeth after meals. Floss as directed.

  • Visit your dentist every 6 months. Dental infection is a risk factor for bacterial endocarditis. See your dentist immediately if you have a toothache or abscess.

  • You might need to take an antibiotic before dental visits. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all infections you have, even small ones.

  • Take good care of yourself. Get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet. Ask your healthcare provider for help as needed.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Be careful to get proper treatment of any open cuts that develop.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff. You will need follow up with an infectious disease doctor as well as a cardiologist and possibly a heart surgeon.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Tiredness that persists for 2 to 3 days

  • Decreased exercise tolerance

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38.0°C)

  • Sweats

  • Severe abdominal or flank pain

  • Bloody urine 

  • Return of symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, paleness, headache, or weakness

  • Palpitations

  • Fainting

  • Trouble speaking

  • Weakness in any extremity or face

  • Spots on your fingernails, fingertips, whites of the eyes, or other parts of your skin

  • Symptoms of a stroke such as trouble speaking or inability to move one side of your body.