HOUSTON – It’s standard for dentists to take your blood pressure at the beginning of every visit.
Dr. Terri Alani said taking blood pressure is done in part because anesthetics used in dentistry could affect your blood pressure, but also it may reveal more about your medical health.
“Most people will see their dentist more frequently than they do their physician. So, we’re able to refer the patient to their doctor if we see an issue with their blood pressure because that can indicate a problem with their overall medical health,” Alani said.
Patricia Greer is the poster child for why it’s necessary. She came in for a routine cleaning and it led to a shocking discovery.
“After some tests, they found out that I had an aortic aneurysm,” Greer explained. “So, I had it ruptured. I had about 60 seconds. You know, unless there was a little tiny leak, but if it really ruptured and there’s not a survival rate.”
“Anything, say in the realm of 180 to 200 / 100, is considered dangerous. So in her particular instance, her blood pressure was that high. So if we don’t do treatment on the patient that day, we’ll actually refer them to a doctor, and in some cases, it can be very life-threatening,” Alani said.
For Patricia, discovering her blood pressure was high was an indication that her life was in danger. She needs open-heart surgery this week.
She said with a family and four grandkids, she’s thankful to be alive and knows the operation gives her a chance to live longer for them.
“I can have the open-heart surgery, which I’m not looking forward to, but I know now that it’s fixed and I’ll be okay,” Greer said.
Alani encourages patients to also take their blood pressure at home (or you can check it at a pharmacy). Anything higher than 120/80 should be checked by a doctor.