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Dentists Can Identify Patients at Risk for Fatal Cardiovascular Event

Posted: Monday, November 16, 2009

We have seen that dentists can play a major role by identifying those at risk for diabetes, but now a new study indicates dentists can play a potentially life-saving role in health care by identifying patients at risk of fatal heart attacks and referring them to physicians for further evaluation.

The study published in a current dental journal, followed 200 patients (101 women and 99 men) in private dental practices.

They used the "HeartScore," software to calculate the risk of a patient dying from a cardiovascular event within a 10-year period.

Designed by the European Society of Cardiology, HeartScore measures cardiovascular disease risk in persons aged 40-65 by factoring the person's age, sex, total cholesterol level, systolic blood pressure and smoking status.

Patients with HeartScores of 10 percent or higher, meaning they had a 10 percent or higher risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke within a 10-year period, were told by dentists to seek medical advice regarding their condition.

All women participating in the study had HeartScores of 5 percent or less. Of the 12 male patients with HeartScores of 10 percent or higher, nine sought further evaluation by a medical care provider who decided that intervention was indicated for six of the patients. Two patients did not follow the dentist's recommendation to seek further medical evaluation and one patient was only encouraged by his dentist to discontinue smoking.

All 200 patients enrolled in the study were 45 years of age or older with no history of cardiovascular disease, medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes and had not visited a physician during the previous year to assess their glucose, cholesterol or blood pressure levels.

The study's authors conclude that oral health care professionals can identify patients who are unaware of their risk of developing serious complications as a result of cardiovascular disease and who are in need of medical interventions.

According to the authors, "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."

Source: Diabetes In Control: Journal of the American Dental Association, Nov, 2009

 
 
 
 
 
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