Bacteria or viruses occasionally invade the heart, creating inflammation or other problems. For people ages 60 and older, the greatest risk is endocarditis, or inflammation in the innermost layer of the heart’s chambers and valves. People with underlying heart valve problems, such as a leaky or narrowed mitral or aortic valve, are most vulnerable to this problem. Those who have had surgery to repair or replace a heart valve or had a previous heart infection should take antibiotics prior to certain dental, surgical, or other invasive procedures.
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