Although fungal infections are rarely serious health conditions, in some cases they can cause severe complications. Most of these complications happen when the fungi enter the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body such as the lungs, brain, and the heart. When they affect the heart, it’s possible to develop a condition called fungal endocarditis.
In this article, we will be exploring what happens when fungal infections cause heart problems.
What Is Fungal Endocarditis?
A rare and serious medical condition, endocarditis is the inflammation of the endocardium – our heart’s inner lining. It’s usually caused by bacterial overgrowth that happens when our immune system is unable to fight off bacteria. The bacteria can enter our bloodstream when we brush our teeth, if we have gum disease, or use a contaminated needle.
This infection can also be caused by fungi, in which case we’re talking about fungal endocarditis. This infection is even more serious than the one caused by bacteria, as it can’t be treated with antibiotics. The most common fungi responsible for these infections are the candida and aspergillus fungi.
There are several factors that can increase your probability of getting fungal endocarditis. These include:
- History of drug use;
- History of cardiovascular surgery;
- Having a central venous catheter;
- Suffering from a disease that affects the immune system (like HIV) or having a weakened immune system as a result of certain treatments (like chemotherapy).
Unfortunately, fungal endocarditis is hard to diagnose and differentiate from bacterial endocarditis. Not only are the two conditions very similar, but the symptoms can sometimes develop slowly.
In rare cases when fungal infections cause heart problems, they are usually caused by a weakened immune system. If your immune system is weakened because of a disease or therapy, talk to your doctor about preventing fungal infections.