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Private dentists may help to identify potential heart patients

University of Gothenburg

A new study has shown that NHS and private dentists could play an important role in identifying people who are at risk of heart attacks.

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy carried out a study involving 200 men and women, all of whom were over the age of 45 and had no history of cardiovascular disease.

Participants were questioned during a routine visit to their dentist and were assessed for known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Thanks to the assessments, six men who believed themselves to be healthy were flagged up as high-risk candidates and were subsequently able to start preventative treatment - hopefully in time to avert a heart attack in future.

Professor Mats Jontell, whose findings are published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, explained: "We wanted to find out if we as a profession could identify patients at risk of cardiovascular disease."

The expert noted that dentists regularly see a large percentage of the population.

"If there is sufficient interest, they could also screen for cardiovascular risk factors which, untreated, could lead to a heart attack or stroke," he added.

Dentists can also play a more direct role in preventing heart disease as previous research has shown that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.

© Adfero Ltd


Dentistry news update: 29 November 2009