Healthy Heart

Invasive Dental Treatments May Increase the Risk of Heart Disease

Invasive Dental Treatments May Increase the Risk of Heart Disease

Key Takeaways

  • Researchers suggest that the bacteria from infection enters the blood stream and accumulates in the blood vessels, causing inflammation.
  • The short-term risk caused by the dental treatment may be outweighed by the long-term benefits of dental work.

Invasive dental treatments, like tooth extractions, may increase the risk of heart disease or stroke, according to a new study published in, Annals of Internal Medicine. The results show the risk as a short-term one, which can return back to normal after six months.

Earlier studies have shown a link between heart health and dental health. Many experts associate the risk of these conditions with  inflammation. Researchers suggest that the bacteria from infection enters the blood stream and accumulates in the blood vessels, causing inflammation. It is this inflammation that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study adds further evidence to the fact that acute inflammation increases the risk of cardiovascular events. Researchers, including the study head Caroline Minassian, MSc, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggest that the short-term risk caused by the dental treatment may be outweighed by the long-term benefits of dental work.

In this study, the Medicaid claimed data of approximately 32,060 adults with a history of heart disease or stroke. This data was then analyzed. The history of these participants were then traced back to see whether any of them had any type of invasive dental procedures early in the life. Out of the participants, 650 had a stroke, while 525 had a heart attack after dental treatments. Other risk factors of heart disease, like hypertension and diabetes, were taken into consideration.

Results of the analysis show that the risk of heart attack and stroke due to invasive dental procedures is transient, and that it reduces to normal within six months of the treatment. Participants who had invasive dental procedure had a high risk of heart attack and stroke in the four weeks after the treatment. The study showed that half of the heart attacks and stroke occurred in women and most of the people who had this condition were younger than 50-years-old.

Howard Weitz, MD, director of the division of cardiology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, feels that the study results should be taken with caution and people should not shun seeing the dentist thinking that dental treatment is risky. Further, studies are needed to confirm the results and the association between the dental treatment and the diseases. One of the drawbacks of the study is that it is based on insurance claims data of the participants and this is not very accurate as there can be coding errors which can impact the results. Further, the database has taken into consideration only the prescription drugs and not over-the-counter medications.

Weitz remarks that many people take low dose of aspirin every day to lower the risk of heart attack. Dentists sometimes ask their patients to stop taking aspirin, as it increases the risk of bleeding and this may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. One can always get back to the cardiologist or the primary care doctor before the medication is stopped.