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Newcastle dentists to check for stroke risk factor in new trial

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Dental researchers at Newcastle Dental Hospital have teamed up with researchers at Edinburgh Napier University to conduct a trial that could identify those with a stroke risk factor that often goes undiagnosed.

The dentists and dental students will soon start monitoring patients for atrial fibrillation (AF).

This comes after recent research which suggests a link between oral hygiene and atria fibrillation, which in turn heightens a persons risk of stroke.

1,000 patients over the age of 65 who attend the dental hospital are set to be part of this research. They will be screened for AF whilst waiting for their dental appointment.

This screening will be conducted using a handheld monitor, taking 30 seconds.

If AF is detected, patient will be referred to their GP, who will then make any necessary clinical decisions, including prescribing blood thinning medication such as statins which help with the prevention of the formation of blood clots.

Principal investigator of the study, Dr Susan Bissett, says: “There is a growing body of scientific evidence and research suggesting a connection between oral diseases and AF.

“This study is looking specifically at the links between gum disease and AF, and the feasibility of screening for AF in a dental setting. The technology is simple and quick to use.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Professor Neubeck and her team on this important research.”

Professor Lis Neubeck, Head of the centre for Cardiovascular Health at Edinburgh Napier, says: “AF can affect all ages, but it is more common in people who are over 65. People with AF are up to five times more likely to suffer a stroke than those without. And around 10 per cent of people who suffer this type of stroke have undiagnosed AF.

“This is such an important study because an AF-related stroke is more likely to be serious than a non-AF related stroke.  Sadly, around 70 per cent die or are left with a permanent disability compared with 55 per cent for non-AF related strokes.”

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