Patient Information

Body Piercing, Tattoos and Congenital Heart Disease

Body piercing and tattoos can result in bacteria (germs) getting into the blood stream. For someone with congenital heart disease there is probably a small risk during a piercing that bacteria could enter the blood stream and cause an infection in the heart (endocarditis). This sort of infection is very rare, but it is very dangerous as well. There have, in fact, been cases reported of people with congenital heart disease developing this type of infection following a body piercing. Although they are sometimes recommended, taking antibiotics before such procedures do not completely eliminate the risk of endocarditis.

It is critically important that any piercing or tattooing should be performed under sterile conditions by a reputable practitioner. The risk of infection is probably much higher when these procedures are performed under less-than-sterile conditions.

If you have any questions regarding the advisability of a body piercing in the presence of congenital heart disease, or the need for antibiotics prior to such a procedure, please speak with your primary care physician or cardiologist.