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American Heart Month: Healthy Gums = Healthy Heart

  • February 24, 2017

Hearts broke when Carrie Fisher died of cardiac arrest in December, just four days after having a heart-related emergency while on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

Her death appears to have given renewed life to an effort to educate women on the signs and symptoms of heart attack. Given that February is American Heart Month, we’re delving into how your oral health can play a significant role in your heart health, as well as sharing some need-to-know information about heart attack signs in women.

An easy task that may help prevent heart problems is daily brushing and flossing. Couple that with regular dental cleanings and periodontal checkups, and you’re going a long way toward promoting good oral and overall health.

Studies have shown that periodontal disease is connected to heart health and complications related to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even pancreatic, oral and lung cancers.

Periodontal disease sufferers have a higher risk of heart disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. It is believed that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be the reason for the association. Periodontal disease can also cause existing heart conditions to worsen.

“Tell us if you have existing heart conditions prior to procedures,” says Dr. Henry Hsu. “We may need to consult your cardiologist to determine whether antibiotics are needed.”

One way of getting periodontal disease under control and removing bacterial infection is to undergo LANAP, says Dr. David DiGiallorenzo. This simple procedure involves no cutting or sutures, and it can be completed in just one office visit. For the fearful patient, it can be performed under IV sedation.

In addition to keeping routine appointments with your periodontist, women should know the signs of heart attack. This is particularly important, because the signs are different for women than men.

The American Heart Association lists them as follows:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest that can last several minutes, or it can come and go.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Call our office to schedule an appointment if you would like to learn more about improving your periodontal health.