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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.

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

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

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