The results of a new study suggest that dental care providers could play an important role in saving the lives of individuals who are at risk of having a heart attack.
A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association involved 200 patients whose dentists used a computer system to calculate the risk of them dying from a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years. Half of these patients were men, and half were women.
The system measures risk in people over the age of 40 by considering their sex, total cholesterol level, blood pressure, smoking status and date of birth. Individuals who were found to have a 10 percent risk of attack or higher were instructed to see a heart specialist. The researchers discovered that 12 men and no women were at this level of risk.
"With emerging data suggesting an association between oral and non-oral diseases, and with the possibility of performing chairside screening tests for diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, oral health care professionals may find themselves in an opportune position to enhance the overall health and well-being of their patients," said the researchers.
Nine of the 12 men who discovered they were at risk followed their dentist's instructions to go seek medical advice.
As advances are made in dental care, it seems taking care of teeth is becoming increasingly connected to maintaining a good level of overall health.
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