Earlier, the American Heart Association (AHA) announced certain changes to the definition and classification of Hypertension. The new guidelines, jointly developed by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), AHA and 9 other professional organizations, after reviewing more than 900 published studies, updated the previously used 2003 guidelines.
The new guidelines recommend establishing Blood Pressure (BP) on the basis of an average of 2 to 3 readings taken on at least 2 different occasions.
Blood pressure is classified into 4 categories, as mentioned below. These changes affect many people as the threshold for hypertension has now been lowered.
Sources have shown that, majority of the people are unaware of their health status during their dental visit. This places a huge responsibility on the oral health care providers, to screen and educate patients regarding this important health risk. Regular BP measurements at dental visits would not only increase doctor-patient trust but, will also create awareness of potential risks of elevated BP, that could lead to developing a cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart failure, etc.
The new guidelines still state that, uncontrolled BP is defined as 180/110 mm Hg or greater and in the absence of symptoms of end organ damage is considered a minor risk with respect to surgical procedures. So, most dental procedures which are not categorized as an emergency should be deferred. If however, symptoms of end organ damage such as, severe headache, chest pain, visual changes, shortness of breath are present, along with a BP of 180/120 or greater (hypertensive crisis), that requires emergency hospital admission.
The connection of dentistry with overall health is an important goal that we all can achieve by keeping abreast with new guidelines.