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Trips to dentist yield healthy heart in women

Women who go to the dentist have healthier hearts.

That’s according to a new study from University of California, Berkeley researchers, who published their findings online Sept. 29 in the journal Health Economics. The study suggests that women who get dental care reduce their risk of heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular problems by at least one-third.

The analysis did not find a similar benefit for men. Data came from nearly 7,000 people, ages 44-88 enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study.

“Many studies have found associations between dental care and cardiovascular disease, but our study is the first to show that general dental care leads to fewer heart attacks, strokes and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes in a causal way,” said study lead author Timothy Brown, Ph.D., assistant adjunct professor of health policy and management at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

This longitudinal study followed the same individuals over time, and each biennial survey included questions on whether subjects had visited the dentist and whether they had experienced a heart attack, stroke, angina or congestive heart failure during the prior two years. Deaths from heart attacks or strokes were also included in the analysis and the study took into account other risk factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, high blood pressure and body mass index.

The fact that men and women did not benefit equally from dental care did not completely surprise the researchers.

“We think the findings reflect differences in how men and women develop cardiovascular disease,” said study co-author Stephen Brown, M.D., a first-year

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

10/06/2010

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