New Report Shows Dentists in Good Compliance with AHA Guidelines

July 5, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

The American Heart Association put out guidelines in 2007 regarding use of prophylactics prior to dental procedures. A recent study from the Rochester Epidemiology Project has found that since the implementation of the guidelines, dental surgeons have remained compliant. Continue below to learn more about the AHA’s efforts to reduce needless antibiotic use.

Before the ADA's guidelines, prophylactic antibiotics were recommended for all patients with an increased risk of infective endocarditis.

In the first study of its kind, researchers have examined dental records included in the Rochester Epidemiology Project and found that dentists and oral surgeons are in compliance with guidelines put forth by the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2007. These guidelines were intended to direct the use of prophylactic antibiotics administered before invasive dental surgeries and other procedures.

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Before the new guidelines were issued in 2007, the AHA recommended prophylactic antibiotics for all patients with cardiac conditions that put them at a higher risk of developing infective endocarditis, a serious and potentially deadly infection of the heart valves. However, it was determined that this group of patients actually represented a small percentage of people receiving antibiotics prior to dental procedures. As a result, the AHA updated their guidelines to reflect this new data. After the guidelines were updated, there was no significant increase in cases of infective endocarditis recorded.

“Using the Rochester Epidemiology Project, we have shown that the new guidelines were very helpful in reducing unnecessary antibiotic use and related issues, without an increase in new cases of infective endocarditis,” Daniel DeSimone, M.D. and study lead authors, says.

The research highlights other problems potentially avoided when patients are not given unnecessary antibiotics.

“Overuse of antibiotics can result in increased bacterial resistance, which is a widespread public health problem,” says DeSimone. Additionally, the estimated cost of antibiotics prescribed to moderate-risk cardiac patients could total over $100 million each year.

While this is the first study to use dental records included in the Rochester Epidemiology Project, there have already been over 2,600 medical publications already presented. The Project features a medical record linkage system that includes data from more than 500,000 patients over the last 50 years. This data allows scientists to examine the causes of many diseases and how patients respond to treatments, including surgery, medication or other alternative interventions while forecasting possible patient outcomes as a result of these interventions.

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