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Why do we take your Blood Pressure at every visit?

The literature suggests that patients, on average, will see their dentist more regularly than they may see their medical doctor.  As a result we have a greater opportunity to evaluate and screen patients for high blood pressure on a more regular basis.  Interestingly, studies also propose that patients whom have high blood pressure and periodontal disease are at a greater risk of having heart disease.  Consequently, the dentist can provide additional information to the family physician with respect to a patients risk of having heart disease.

High blood pressure is a symptom of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is  the ingestion of low density lipoprotein (mainly from animal fat), with the subsequent oxidation and accumulation of lipid products within the arterial vascular wall.  Ultimately this causes arterial inflammation in addition to arterial stiffness and remodeling.  This is thought to be a major factor in systemic arterial hypertension (high blood pressure).

High blood pressure can cause:

  • Heart – left ventricular hypertrophy, angina or MI, coronary revascularization, heart failure
  • Brain – TIA/Stroke
  • Kidney – chronic disease/failure (small blood vessels)
  • Vascular system – peripheral arterial disease (small blood vessels)/poor circulation
  • Eyes – Retinopathy

Ultimately the key is early detection.  The sooner someone can be treated for high blood pressure the more we can minimize the risk of the above.

Lifestyle changes can help lower an individual’s blood pressure.  Weight reduction, reducing sodium intake, minimizing alcohol consumption,  increasing physical activity and adopting a DASH eating plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) have all been shown to effectively reduce blood pressure significantly in addition to physician prescribed medications if required.