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New study explains how good dental health prevents heart infection

Maintenance of good oral health is more important than use of antibiotics in dental procedures for some heart patients to prevent a heart infection caused by bacteria around the teeth, according to a new American Heart Association (AHA) scientific statement published recently in the association’s flagship journal, Circulation.

Infective endocarditis (IE), also called bacterial endocarditis, is a heart infection caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart lining, a heart valve or a blood vessel. It is uncommon, but people with heart valve disease or previous valve surgery, congenital heart disease or recurrent infective endocarditis have a greater risk of complications if they develop IE. Intravenous drug use also increases risk for IE. Viridans group streptococcal infective endocarditis (VGS IE) is caused by bacteria that collect in plaque on the tooth surface and cause inflammation and swelling of the gums. There’s been concern that certain dental procedures may increase the risk of developing VGS IE in vulnerable patients.

The new guidance affirms previous recommendations that only four categories of heart patients should be prescribed antibiotics prior to certain dental procedures to prevent VGS IE due to their higher risk for complications from the infection:

“Scientific data since the 2007 AHA guidelines support the view that limited use of preventive antibiotics for dental procedures hasn’t increased cases of endocarditis and is an important step at combating antibiotic overuse in the population,”

Walter R. Wilson, M.D., chair of the statement writing group and a consultant for the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

It has been over a decade since recommendations for preventing infective endocarditis were updated amid concerns of antibiotic resistance due to overprescribing. The American Heart Association’s 2007 guidelines, which presented the biggest shift in recommendations from the Association on the prevention of infective endocarditis in more than 50 years, more tightly defined which patients should receive preventive antibiotics before certain dental procedures to the four high-risk categories. This change resulted in about 90% fewer patients requiring antibiotics.

The scientific statement writing group reviewed data on VGS IE since the 2007 guidelines to determine if the guidelines had been accepted and followed, whether cases of and mortality due to VGS IE have increased or decreased, and if the guidance might need to be adjusted.

The writing committee reports their extensive review of related research found:

The scientific statement was prepared by the volunteer writing committee on behalf of the American Heart Association’s Young Hearts Rheumatic Fever, Endocarditis and Kawasaki Disease Committee; the Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in the Young; the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; and the Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research.

-Courtesy by Science Daily

 Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

April 20, 2021

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