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UK dentists should give antibiotics to patients at risk of heart infection

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Dentists in the UK should be encouraged to give antibiotics to patients at high risk of life-threatening heart infection before invasive procedures, a study has found.

Research suggests bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream during dental treatment could explain 30% to 40% of infective endocarditis cases. The rare but life-threatening condition occurs when the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves become infected.

Antibiotics could limit the number of cases and reduce the risk of heart failure, stroke and premature death in high-risk patients, the study says.

Current guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) advise against the routine use of antibiotics before invasive dental procedures for those at risk of infective endocarditis.

“Ours is the largest study to show a significant association between invasive dental procedures and infective endocarditis, particularly for extraction and surgical procedures,” said Prof Martin Thornhill from the University of Sheffield, who led the study.

Nice should review its guidelines advising against antibiotic prophylaxis, the researchers said.

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Source: The Guardian, 19 August 2022

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