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Dr. Andrea Moyer, St. Luke's Hospital

Dental care affects heart health in women

According to scientific research, there appears to be a connection between dental hygiene and heart health in women.

A study conducted by researchers at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health found that women who visited the dentist regularly lowered their risk of having a heart attack. Statistics from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute show the number one cause of death in women is heart disease, and 23 percent of women die within one year of a first recognized heart attack. Therefore, dental hygiene may be one way to protect women from the risk of a heart attack.

There is a known relationship between inflammation in blood vessels and cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks. One hypothesis to explain the connection between good dental hygiene and reduced heart disease is the reduction of bacteria in the bloodstream that can lead to inflammation.

It's important to know the symptoms of a heart attack for women, which can be different than those experienced by men.

Heart attack symptoms in women:
Women often hesitate or fail to call 911 when they experience heart attack symptoms. Most feel they are not really having a heart attack, do not want to raise a false alarm or self-diagnose themselves as having heartburn or other minor health issues. If you even think you are having a heart attack, call 911. Remember, time lost is heart muscle lost.

Dr. Andrea Moyer is a board-certified cardiologist at Cardiac Specialists of St. Luke's. For more information, call 314-205-6699 or visit her Meet the Doctor page.

This article was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on February 10, 2011.