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Risk of cardiac events after invasive dental procedures

Periodontal disease is a known risk factor for heart attack and stroke, but could the very dental procedures which treat periodontal disease be linked to a higher risk of heart attack or stroke? A new research study has found an association between invasive dental procedures and heart attacks or strokes.  The rate of these adverse events was significantly increased in the first 4 weeks — and gradually declined within 6 months — after invasive dental procedures, compared with other periods. None of the problems occurred on the same day of the dental procedure.

These findings challenge the assumption that patients undergoing invasive dental procedures are at low risk for heart attack or stroke. Most of the cardiac problems occurred in women, and 30% occurred in patients younger than 50. The short-term risk of dental procedures must be weighed against the long-term cardiovascular benefits of alleviating periodontal disease. No direct evidence from this study suggests that inflammation is a causative mechanism in vascular events that occur after dental procedures. However, clinicians would be prudent to heed guideline recommendations to continue aspirin therapy during and immediately after minor surgical procedures.