Background: We sought to summarize and critically appraise the literature on the epidemiology of infective endocarditis (IE) in the general population.
Methods: We retrieved population-based IE surveys by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE. Two reviewers independently extracted relevant data. We performed a metaregression to determine if temporal trends of IE characteristics exist.
Results: Fifteen population-based investigations with 2,371 IE cases from seven countries (Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States) from 1969 to 2000 were eligible. Different case definitions and procedures were used to capture all IE cases, including census of existing diagnoses, record-linkage system, and direct contact survey. In the unadjusted regression, there was a decline in the proportion of IE patients with underlying rheumatic heart disease (RHD; 12%; 95% confidence interval [CI], - 21 to - 3%; p = 0.01) and an increase in the proportion of patients undergoing valve surgery (9%; 95% CI, 3 to 16%) per decade. After adjusting for country, the decline in IE cases with underlying RHD became nonsignificant, but the proportions of IE patients undergoing valve surgery increased 7% per decade (95% CI, - 4 to 14%; p = 0.06), and those with underlying prosthetic valve increased 7% per decade (95% CI, - 1 to 16%; p = 0.07). There were no significant temporal trends in the causative organisms.
Conclusion: Evidence from well-planned, representative IE epidemiologic surveys is scarce in many countries. Available studies suggest a changing distribution of underlying valvular heart disease in patients with IE and an increase in its surgical treatment.