All of us here at Inspired Hygiene have been looking forward to February! Not only is it American Heart Health month, it’s the 10th Anniversary of Go Red for Women and it’s Dentistry Has a Heart Month! February presents a perfect opportunity to ‘share the love’ with your patients as you encourage them to have excellent oral health to support a healthy heart.
Celebrating this month is also a great way to further educate your patients about the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. There are many low cost things you can do, so start celebrating with your team and your patients today. For a list of activities, videos and resources, visit www.dentistryhasaheart.com.
Scroll down for conversation tips and check out the list of ‘red flags’ for heart disease and stroke.
A Different Look at a Common Disease
For a long time cardio-vascular health was all about keeping your weight and blood pressure down and getting regular exercise. While these things are still important, we now know there is so much more to consider when it comes to risk factors.
Take a look at this list of ‘red flags’ (1). In addition to genetic factors, smoking, type II diabetes and a personal or family history of CVD these conditions are warning signs that may put you at greater risk for heart attack or stroke:
- Gestational diabetes
- Gestational high blood pressure
- History of miscarriage
- Abdominal obesity
- Sleep problems
- Gum disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Polycystic ovaries
- Elevated cholesterol
- Elevated blood glucose levels
- Psychosocial issues; depression, stress, anxiety
- Migraine headaches
- Hirsutism (facial hair growth in women)
- Oligomenorrhea (changes in menstruation)
- Hispanic or African American descent
As health care professionals, it’s vital that we not only understand the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease but we get comfortable talking to our patients about it.
This week, when you see a ‘red flag’ on a patients’ health history, dig a little deeper. Ask them if there is a family history of heart disease and other associated risks like diabetes. If they have a red flag and bleeding gums, be sure to recommend some level of treatment. Don’t let active disease get a pass for the next 6 months.