Heart valve infection risk increasing in hospitals

The risk of developing a heart valve infection in hospitals is increasing, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 21,443 patients diagnosed with infective endocarditis at New Jersey hospitals between 1994 and 2015.

Starting in 2004, researchers discovered a drastic decrease in the number of patients admitted with infective endocarditis as their primary diagnosis. Over the same time period, the number of patients who contracted the heart infection as a secondary diagnosis in the hospital increased significantly.

Of the 12,252 patients who contracted infective endocarditis during a hospital stay, 60 percent had infections linked to staphylococcus bacteria, "which is abundant in hospitals and implicates health care as a possible source of infection," lead author Abel Moreyra, MD, a professor at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., said in a news release.

"In the past, infective endocarditis was associated with rheumatic heart disease and most often caused by bacteria in the mouth," Dr. Moreyra added. "However, new risk factors, such as intravenous opiate abuse, compromised immune systems, hemodialysis and implanted heart devices have emerged."

To view the full study, click here.

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