Infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocardium) is a serious condition. The disease can lead to serious damage, if it is not treated quickly. Between 15% and 30% of patients die from the disease.
The current standard practice is for patients to receive treatment at hospital. Once the critical phase and any surgery are over, patients are kept in hospital for up to six weeks to receive their medication intravenously.
Now, the results of a research collaboration between heart centres throughout Denmark have demonstrated that patients can be discharged from hospital much earlier and take antibiotics in tablet form in their own homes, without this impairing their treatment. 400 patients took part in the trial, and following ten days of treatment, they were divided into two groups; one continued treatment at hospital, while the other received treatment at home. The results were equally good for both groups. The new results have just been published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
Project manager, Professor Henning Bundgaard, a consultant at Rigshospitalet said:
“Lying in hospital for six weeks to receive intravenous treatment is a huge challenge for patients. Shorter admission times have given better results for other diseases, and using antibiotics in tablet form could prove to be a safe method, which is why we decided to set up this collaboration project.”
The new results could be very significant for heart patients in the future:
“The national collaboration means that we’ve been able to conduct the world’s hitherto largest randomized study of heart infection, and we hope that it will have a great impact on future clinical practice, both in Denmark and abroad,” said Kasper Iversen, a consultant at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.
One of the patients who took part in the project is 60-year-old Simone Lensbøl.
In spring 2016, she was admitted to Herlev Hospital with inflammation of a heart valve, and she had the opportunity to test new method:
"When I got my diagnosis, I was also told that I could expect to have to stay in hospital for eight weeks. So I had no doubt at all when I was offered a place on the trial. The freedom and flexibility of being at home was invaluable - I felt less ill, I could go to the gym, things were easier for my family and generally I could maintain as normal a life as possible,” said Simone Lensbøl, who is a qualified nurse herself.
Simone Lensbøl was in hospital for the first three weeks of her treatment, and then allowed to go home.
She was still formally admitted to the hospital and had to attend check-ups two-three times a week.
In Denmark, about 600 patients are diagnosed with heart infections every year.