Cardiovascular Disease; Dentists can help in the fight against heart disease

Copyright 2005, Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week viaNewsRx.com

Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week Atlanta:Dec 3, 2005. p. 265

A new study published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) says dentists have a "unique opportunity" to help in the fight against heart attack, one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Health care utilization patterns indicate that individuals may be more likely to see their dentist regularly than they are to see their physician, the JADA report says.

"This could place dentists in the frontlines for identifying patients at risk of coronary heart disease," says Michael Glick, DMD, who co-authored the study with Barbara L. Greenberg, PhD.

Dr. Glick is a professor and chair, the department of diagnostic sciences, University of Dentistry and Medicine of New Jersey, School of Dentistry, where Dr. Greenberg is the acting associate dean of research. Dr. Glick also is editor of JADA.

Conducting medical history reviews and measuring patients' blood pressure are "common practices" for today's dentists, the researchers note. Such procedures, along with simple chairside screenings, help dentists provide proper dental care, but they also can point to "underlying medical conditions" and risk factors that could contribute to a heart attack. A patient found at risk would be referred to a physician for consultation and treatment.

"Our study clearly suggests that dentists can play an important role in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease," report Drs. Glick and Greenberg in the JADA study titled, "The potential role of dentists in identifying patients' risk of experiencing coronary heart disease events."

The researchers note that some patients may resist having their dentist screen for conditions not related directly to dental health. But they also note that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for $368 billion in direct and indirect costs in 2004 alone.

"By collecting histories and conducting a few simple tests, dentists may be able to help reduce these enormous personal and financial costs," says Dr. Glick. "Most important, they may be able to help save lives."

This article was prepared by Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2005, Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week via NewsRx.com.