DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Endocarditis in fingernail. Close-up of a finger- nail showing splinter haemorrhage: dark, thin lines under the nail caused by bleeding. This is a sign of the heart disease subacute bacterial endo- carditis (SBE), in which the membrane (endocard- ium) lining a valve in the heart becomes infected with bacteria and inflamed. SBE can smoulder unde- tected for months, causing mild symptoms (such as weakness and vague aches and pains) but doing serious damage to the heart. If untreated it can lead to heart failure and death. Treatment includes high doses of intravenous antibiotics and, in some cases, surgery to replace the damaged heart valve.
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