Toothache or pain in the jaw may be a sign of a heart attack, according to a study conducted by researchers in Sweden and Uruguay. The study - 'Craniofacial Pain As the Sole Symptom of Cardiac Ischemia: A Prospective Multicenter Study' - was published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Cardiologists and dentists took part in the study.
The symptoms are however often overlooked, and especially women who suffer from heart attack or angina can suffer from tooth or jaw ache without chest pains, the study said.
In all, 186 patients diagnosed with angina or heart attack were asked to indicate on a body chart where they experienced pain. Almost four in 10 patients or 71 of the 186 patients, who were mainly women, pointed at the jaw or the face.
The study suggested that facial pain was the most common symptom if chest pains were not manifest. The pain was also equal on both sides of the face and increased when the patient made some kind of physical exertion.
Professor Annika Isberg of the department of odontology at Umea University, who has specialised in the study of jaws, said dentists sometimes look for traces in the wrong spot.
Dentists and doctors should therefore consider the possibility of a heart attack when a patient complains of toothache, she told Swedish media outlets.
Although the study was quite small in scope, it still suggested a link between facial pain and heart attacks in women, Isberg said.