Objective: To describe the incidence and clinical manifestations of long-term cardiac complications of endocarditis.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: University-affiliated tertiary medical center.
Patients: One hundred twelve consecutive patients, survivors from a series of 140 non-addicted patients with a first episode of infective endocarditis on native valves hospitalized from 1975 to 1990. Thirty-two patients had had valve replacement during the active phase of the infection, and the remaining 80 patients received medical treatment alone.
Measurements: Relapse, recurrence, need for late cardiac surgery, and cardiac mortality.
Results: Relapses occurred in three patients (2.7%) and recurrences in five patients (4.5%, incidence density at 15 years, 0.0030 per patient-year). Late cardiac surgery was needed by 47% of the patients treated medically during the active phase, and most had surgery in the first 2 years of follow-up (incidence density, 0.25 per patient-year at 2 years). Aortic valve involvement (relative risk, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.15 to 6.17) and end-diastolic diameter greater than 60 mm (relative risk, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.03 to 2.43) were associated with the need for late surgery in univariate analysis. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed aortic valve involvement to be an independent predictor of the need for late surgery (relative risk, 3.04; CI, 1.23 to 7.54). Only 2 of the 32 patients who had surgery during the active infection needed a second operation during follow-up. At the end of follow-up, the number of patients who had surgery after the onset of the infection was 86 (60% of the whole series). Cardiac death occurred in 16 patients; most deaths were sudden or postoperative and occurred in the first 2 years of follow-up (incidence density, 0.047 per patient-year at 2 years). Independent predictors of death were not found. Survival was 90% at 2 years, 88% at 5 years, 81% at 10 years, and 61% at 15 years.
Conclusions: Survival after infective endocarditis is fair (81% probability of survival at 10 years), and the most common types of cardiac death are sudden and postoperative. Aortic valve involvement is an independent predictor of the need for late cardiac surgery. The rate of recurrences is not negligible (incidence density at 15 years, 0.0030 per patient-year).