According to researchers from the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine ,they say that information culled from routine dental X-ray may serve as an accurate early-warning system of risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.
The study was ushered in a population with a high incidence of diabetes. "Results of this study move us closer to the use of panoramic dental radiographs as a screening tool for all cardiovascular disease," said Laurie Carter, D.D.S., Ph.D., UB associate professor of oral diagnostic sciences and lead author on the study.
Dr. Carter revealed that panoramic dental X-rays -- wide-angle frontal images taken to authenticate the baseline condition of teeth and surrounding bone -- also revealed any calcium deposits present in the carotid arteries. These are the large vessels on either side of the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain and back. The study involved 3,200 new patients in dental clinics.
The UB researchers evaluated baseline panoramic dental X-rays for calcified plaque in the carotid arteries from 964 participants. They found calcification in 7.5 percent of the study group. Calcified plaque is found in only about 4 percent of the general population, Dr. Carter said. Comparing calcification with cause of death, they found that people with plaque in the carotid arteries were twice as likely to die from heart attack or stroke than those with no plaque.