Risk of heart attack and stroke following dental treatment outweighed by long-term benefits

Oct 19, 2010
Heart attack, stroke risk after dental treatment
Image credit: Wolfiewolf on Flickr

Research published today suggests that invasive dental treatment, such as extractions, carries a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of stroke and heart attack over the short term. However, the authors of the study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation, stress that any increase in risk is likely to be outweighed by the long-term benefits of such treatment.

Inflammation - the process by which the body responds to injury or infection - is known to play a role in cardiovascular events such as heart attack or ischemic (stroke caused by lack of oxygen to the blood). Such inflammation can arise from a number of causes, such as surgery or bacterial infection.

Epidemiological data also suggest that low-grade dental infection such as periodontitis (a common chronic infection of the caused by bacteria) may increase the risk of cardiovascular events. However, invasive dental treatment for periodontitis has been shown to cause short-term impairment to blood flow.

To test whether inflammation and impairment to blood flow increased the likelihood of a , a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and University College London (UCL) looked at whether invasive dental treatment led to an increased risk of or heart attack.

In a study published today in the journal , the researchers examined data from the claims database of the US Medicaid program for individuals and families with low incomes and resources.

Averaged across the different age groups, the Medicaid records suggest that in the four-week period following invasive dental treatment, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is increased by 50 per cent. The risk then returns to normal over the weeks following this. Because the period of increased risk was short, over a full year this translated into an increased overall risk of less than 4 per cent.

However, the researchers are keen to stress that previous studies have shown that invasive dental treatment is beneficial to vascular health in the long term and that these benefits outweigh any short term risk.

"Although we found a small increase in the risk of heart attack or stroke following dental treatment, all the research suggests that the long-term benefits greatly outweigh this risk," says Professor Liam Smeeth, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the LSHTM. "We would still recommend that people who require dental treatment go ahead."

While the increased risk is small, it is also statistically significant, and therefore the researchers believe it adds further evidence to support the link between acute inflammation and the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Explore further: First vital step in fertilization between sperm and egg discovered

More information: Minassian C et al. Invasive dental treatment and risk for vascular events: a self-controlled case series. Annals of Internal Medicine 2010.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cholesterol-lowering drugs and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke

Dec 12, 2007

People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as atorvastatin after a stroke may be at an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, or bleeding in the brain, a risk not found in patients taking statins who have never had a stroke. ...

Biomarkers improve ischemic stroke prediction

Dec 18, 2008

Testing patient's blood for two proteins or biomarkers that occur when inflammation is present could help doctors identify which patients are more likely to have a stroke, said researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in ...

Recommended for you

Researchers transplant regenerated oesophagus

Apr 15, 2014

Tissue engineering has been used to construct natural oesophagi, which in combination with bone marrow stem cells have been safely and effectively transplanted in rats. The study, published in Nature Communications, shows ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study's findings ...

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...