Why People With Heart Conditions Should Avoid Body Piercing

A Mayo Clinic study has found that people with congenital heart disease are at risk of having heart valve infection as a result of having parts of their bodies pierced. Bacterial endocarditis is a serious, difficult-to-treat, and potentially life-threatening condition. The good news is that some cases can be prevented with the use of antibiotics prior to a person undergoing piercing. Those at greatest risk are people with damaged or prosthetic heart valves. That’s because infection could enter the bloodstream during seemingly minor procedures such as body piercing or routine dental work. Because body piercing involves breaching one of the body’s main protective barriers — the skin — it brings with it a high risk of infection if done improperly. Risks include hepatitis, tetanus and HIV. Less serious local infections can cause illness, deformity and scarring.