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Invasive Dentistry May Raise Short-Term Heart, Stroke Risk
Date:10/19/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Invasive dental procedures designed to treat gum inflammation may raise the risk for heart attack and stroke, researchers say.

But the increase appears to be slight and short-term, the study team noted.

"I don't want to downplay this entirely, because we saw a genuine rise in cardiovascular risk in the period just after dental work was done among patients undergoing invasive treatment," said study co-author Liam Smeeth, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in England. "But the overall risk is quite small and endures for only a very brief period."

Smeeth and his colleagues published their findings in the Oct. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Previous research has linked common and chronic low-grade dental infections to inflammatory processes that elevate the risk for strokes and heart attacks, the authors pointed out.

But whether treatment for those infections raises a similar risk had not been explored, said the authors who set out to study the potential link between the two.

The team analyzed U.S. Medicaid records for nearly 1,200 patients who had undergone invasive dental treatments and had also experienced a stroke or a heart attack between 2002 and 2006.

The patients' median age was 67, and invasive dental procedures were characterized as those with the potential to cause an inflammatory response, such as periodontal therapy and tooth extractions.

Nearly three-quarters of the patients had undergone a single dental procedure, nearly all of them (89 percent) tooth extractions. About one-quarter had had two to four dental treatments, with 57 days, on average, between each procedure.

About 4 percent of the patients died during hospitalization.

Even after taking into consideration a history of diabetes, high blood pressure and/or co
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