February is American Heart Month

Why Does The Dentist Take My Blood Pressure?

The month of February is American Heart Month, and an ideal time to remind Americans to focus on their hearts health. Chances are, we all know someone affected by heart disease or stroke, because an average of 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is an asymptomatic disease that typically remains undetected until your doctor takes your blood pressure. Unless your blood pressure is dangerously elevated (180/110 and higher), you probably won’t feel any warning signs. Sustained blood pressure readings of 200/140 often produce severe headaches, dizziness and nausea.

Our dentists understand that while most of their patients visit them at least twice a year for checkups and often times more frequently for dental cleaning, the same patients may not visit their primary doctor for several years. This means dentists have better access to checking a patient’s important health markers like blood pressure, blood glucose level and heart functioning than medical doctors.

What Your Blood Pressure Readings Mean

High Systolic Blood Pressure

The systolic number is the top number in a blood pressure reading and represents the amount of blood flow pushing against vessel walls as the heart pumps blood into your body. Systolic numbers above 140 indicate hypertension, even if the bottom number (diastolic) is below 99.

High Diastolic Blood Pressure

Diastolic hypertension means that the pressure of blood flow against vessel walls between heartbeats is excessive. A normal diastolic number should be around 80 to 85. Numbers above 99 indicate possible hypertension. Diastolic hypertension is centered more around the aging process and “wear and tear” of heart muscles rather than diet and weight issues that influence systolic pressure.

Why Tracking Blood Pressure Readings is Vital to Your Good Health

Heart disease is known as the “silent killer” for obvious reasons, untreated high blood pressure can eventually lead to heart attack, stroke and/or kidney failure. Consequently, more dentists are starting to take their patients’ blood pressure before cleanings or dental procedures as part of a comprehensive, long-term health plan.
If our dentist discovers your blood pressure is too high, he/she will advise you to seek additional medical treatment from your family physician. Medications to control high blood pressure dilate blood vessels so that blood flows more freely throughout the body to lower and stabilize blood pressure.
Common reasons underlying chronic hypertension are:
• over weight
• lack of exercise
• stress
• unhealthy lifestyle
• smoking
• undiagnosed sleep disorders

Benefits of Blood Pressure and Heart Monitoring at the Dentist’s Office

It’s important for your dental care provider to know your blood pressure before dental treatment. The dental anesthetics affect each patient differently, depending on their age and current state of health. Patients who receive anesthesia may bleed more during an extraction, especially if they are taking blood pressure medication or they have high blood pressure that is uncontrolled. The local anesthetics contain epinephrine, a hormone similar to adrenaline that helps prolong numbing of the gums. In addition to these important things another concern is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or Sleep Breathing Disorder (SBD). Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure and High Blood Pressure are the most common symptom in adults for this deadly disease. In essence your dentist could save your life by taking your blood pressure.
For more information about heart disease, please check out the American Heart Association’s website
Are you due for a cleaning? Call Oakton Family Dentistry today!