Cardiovascular disease, or CVD, is associated with a very high rate of morbidity and mortality among people in the United States. Primary and secondary prevention measures will help reduce cardiovascular events and increase the overall health of the patient population.
The author conducted MEDLINE and Internet searches and reviewed publications from professional organizations for the most up-to-date information on CVD and associated risk factors.
More than 450,000 articles and monographs on CVD were published in English between January 1990 and May 2001. Of these, approximately 45,000 discussed CVD and risk factors. The author selected and reviewed more than 550 publications on the basis of their relevance to epidemiology, etiology, and primary and secondary prevention of CVD.
Recent information regarding the pathogenesis and treatment of CVD suggests that oral health care providers can perform screening for risk factors and aid in monitoring of specific conditions that put people at an increased risk of developing and exacerbating existing CVD. Dentists need to take a proactive role in this endeavor.
As with most medical conditions, oral health care providers play an important function as it relates to the overall health of their patients. This article provides a timely update on CVD and the relationship between CVD and its risk factors, and offers suggestions for oral health care providers as to when they should interact with patients and patients' primary health care providers to possibly reduce the mortality and morbidity of CVD.