Joining Fox 29 News on Monday night to discuss the death of former Congressman John Adler was the University of Pennsylvania's Dr. Mike Cirigliano.
Adler reportedly had a staph infection that went to his heart, also known as staph bacterial endorcarditis.
"Basically, when you have an infection and blood gets infected, the bacteria gets in the bloodstream, it can cause an infection of the heart valve. And that's what we call endocarditis," Cirigliano said. "And, from what we've heard, that's what happened to this poor gentleman."
With endocarditis, the bacteria lodge on one of the valves in the heart, and it slowly destroys the valve.
"The problem with this, as an internist, is it's sometimes very hard to pick up on endocarditis. It can be symptoms like the flue, you can have night sweats. Those sorts of things can be very hard for the clinician to pick up. But if it progresses, it can cause big problems."
Cirigliano said it happens more in men, but it can happen also in women.
He added, "The major cause of this is someone who has a problem with their valves to begin with, some structural problem with the heart that makes the bacteria more likely to grow and lodge on that kind of abnormal valve."
Where does a staph infection typically come from? Cirigliano said, "These kinds of infections can occur from any part of the body – a scrape, a cut. Sometimes, if you have some type of metal or hardware in your body. If you had a catheter in your body, that can cause it. Dental work, we all know that that can cause it. So, these are the things that lead to this type of a tragedy, unfortunately."