Endocarditis : Symptoms

The symptoms of endocarditis can develop rapidly over the course of a few days (acute endocarditis), or slowly over the course of a few weeks or possibly months (subacute endocarditis).

Subacute endocarditis is more common in people with congenital heart disease.

Symptoms of endocarditis

The most common symptoms of endocarditis include:

  • a high temperature
  • chills
  • night sweats
  • headaches 
  • shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
  • cough
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • muscle and joint pain 

Other symptoms can include:

  • small red or purple spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • narrow, reddish-brown lines of blood that run underneath the nails
  • painful red lumps in the pads of the fingers and toes
  • painless red spots on the palms and soles
  • confusion

When to seek medical advice

Contact your GP as soon as possible if you develop any of the above symptoms, particularly if you're at a higher risk of developing endocarditis, such as having a history of heart disease.

Find out more about the causes of endocarditis

When to seek emergency medical advice

stroke is one of the most serious complications that can develop from endocarditis.

If you suspect a stroke, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance.

The most effective way to identify the symptoms of a stroke is to remember the word FAST, which stands for:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may be unable to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them
  • Time – it's time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms