Prevention of Viridans Group Streptococcal Infective Endocarditis: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2021 May 18;143(20):e963-e978. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000969. Epub 2021 Apr 15.


Background: In 2007, the American Heart Association published updated evidence-based guidelines on the recommended use of antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent viridans group streptococcal (VGS) infective endocarditis (IE) in cardiac patients undergoing invasive procedures. The 2007 guidelines significantly scaled back the underlying conditions for which antibiotic prophylaxis was recommended, leaving only 4 categories thought to confer the highest risk of adverse outcome. The purpose of this update is to examine interval evidence of the acceptance and impact of the 2007 recommendations on VGS IE and, if needed, to make revisions based on this evidence.

Methods and results: A writing group was formed consisting of experts in prevention and treatment of infective endocarditis including members of the American Dental Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, in addition to the American Heart Association. MEDLINE database searches were done for English language articles on compliance with the recommendations in the 2007 guidelines and the frequency of and morbidity or mortality from VGS IE after publication of the 2007 guidelines. Overall, there was good general awareness of the 2007 guidelines but variable compliance with recommendations. There was no convincing evidence that VGS IE frequency, morbidity, or mortality has increased since 2007.

Conclusions: On the basis of a review of the available evidence, there are no recommended changes to the 2007 VGS IE prevention guidelines. We continue to recommend VGS IE prophylaxis only for categories of patients at highest risk for adverse outcome while emphasizing the critical role of good oral health and regular access to dental care for all. Randomized controlled studies to determine whether antibiotic prophylaxis is effective against VGS IE are needed to further refine recommendations.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; antibiotic prophylaxis; dental care; endocarditis; oral health; viridans streptococci.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • American Heart Association
  • Endocarditis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • United States
  • Viridans Streptococci / pathogenicity*