‘Toothache linked to heart attacks’

New research carried out in Sweden and Uruguay has shown that toothache or jaw pain, particularly among women, may be an indicator of heart trouble. Symptoms of this sort were displayed by 71 of the 186 cardiovascular patients observed in the study.

As most previous studies have been based on male patients, healthcare services are usually aware of typical male symptoms of cardiac arrest. But many women risk dying of heart attacks because they do not receive a diagnosis in time, Svenska Dagbladet reports.

When women visit go to be treated for jaw pain or toothache it often happens that the dentist looks in the wrong place , according to Annika Isberg, professor of odontology at Umeå University.

“This is something we have now become more aware of; quite simply that we do not detect heart attacks among women because men constitute the norm,” Isberg told Svenska Dagbladet.

The study encompassed 186 patients diagnosed with heart attacks or vascular spasms.

A research group displayed a picture of the human body and asked the patients to say where they felt pain.

A total of 71 patients, mainly women, pointed to the jaw or face. Many pointed to this region alone, while some also indicated other parts of the body.

It further emerged that jaw pain was the most common symptom among patients who did not have chest pains, which often occur in connection with a heart attack.

In previous studies of this nature patients have been shown a picture of the human body from the shoulders down. A number of the patients in the current study had first gone to the dentist but were not hospitalised until they had a heart attack.

The study has been published in the January edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association (Jada).