People who receive periodontal care may have shorter hospital stays following a heart attack. The corresponding study was published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.
There are around 800, 000 myocardial infarctions- heart attacks- in the US every year. Studies show that those with periodontal disease have an increased risk for hospitalization due to heart attack. However, until now, there has been little research into whether periodontal care influences the outcomes of a heart attack.
In the current study, researchers analyzed data from 2,370 patients from the MarketScan database who had dental and medical coverage between 2016 and 2018, and who were hospitalized with a heart attack in 2017. Among the patients, 47% received regular or other oral healthcare, 7% received active periodontal care, 10% received controlled periodontal care, and 36% did not have oral health care before hospitalization.
After controlling for several factors, the researchers found that patients who underwent periodontal care had a shorter hospital stay and more follow-up visits within 30 days of hospitalization than those who did not have periodontal care. The researchers thus concluded that early intervention to ensure stable periodontal health in patients at risk of heart attack could reduce later hospital resource use.
"Dentistry is often practiced in isolation from overall health care," said study co-author Romesh Nalliah, associate dean for patient services at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, "Our results add weight to the evidence that medical and dental health are closely interrelated. More and more studies like ours are showing that it is a mistake to practice medicine without the thoughtful consideration of the patient's oral health."
"It is important to include dental care in routine medical care and this means insurances must facilitate this connection rather than offer dental insurance as a separate add-on coverage," he said.