Heart murmurs, a common finding in dental patients, are of major concern to dental professionals because certain dental procedures occasionally can induce severe cardiovascular complications. Murmurs may indicate existing heart disease that is a risk factor for infective endocarditis following a dental procedure, as well as more severe heart conditions such as congenital heart disease, atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure.
TYPES OF STUDIES REVIEWED:
This review article is based on data published in peer-reviewed journals, including practice guidelines published by major dental and medical professional organizations.
Echocardiography is the primary means of evaluating heart murmurs, and all dental professionals should become familiar with major aspects of an echocardiogram. Understanding the medical evaluation and assessment of a heart murmur fosters better communication with other health care professionals and results in improved patient care.
Beyond the need to administer antibiotic prophylaxis, the dentist also needs to address the underlying causes of a patient's heart murmur. By providing dental care to such patients, oral health care providers become part of the patient's overall health care team.