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Dental surgery and heart problems

For people who have dental surgery, the risk of heart attack and stroke rises during the weeks following the procedure.

Dental surgery and heart problems

For people who have dental surgery, the risk of heart attack and stroke rises during the weeks following the procedure.

Heart attack and stroke, linked to bacterial infections and inflammation after invasive treatment, are likely because inflammation can damage the walls of arteries and contribute to the formation of plaques that clog arteries. This led researchers to wonder about the role of dental surgery as well.

The researchers studied data on a group of U.S. patients receiving dental care, including simple procedures like removing a tooth. This included information for close to 10 million people, but there were only 1,150 people who had an invasive dental procedure and they looked for a heart attack or stroke in this group during the 4-year follow-up period. In this group, 40 cases of heart attack or stroke occurred in the first four weeks after dental work - one and a half times the baseline rate.

This study was not designed to determine if dental surgery causes heart problems but only to see if they are associated with each other.

Previous research has shown that errors in recording information in a database like the one used are fairly common. Even when it's correct, the information does not include the use of aspirin and other over-the-counter medications that help to prevent heart disease. In some cases, doctors require patients to stop using aspirin in order to help prevent excessive bleeding during surgery. The researchers explained that cutting off aspirin could put some of these people at higher risk for heart attack or stroke later on.

It's hard to know exactly what's going on, because the researchers didn't have access to information about the drugs the patients were taking around the time of surgery. Therefore there is not enough evidence to suggest people should start delaying dental procedures, which could potentially create other complications. Instead, people should speak with their doctors about their heart condition and let dentists know if they are at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Further studies are needed to study this issue in more details.
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