Check Those BPs!

Dentists Saving Lives

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve had 3 patients needing extractions.  All three patients looked healthy enough.  But, their health histories indicated they were on medication for high blood pressure.

I routinely take BPs before doing any extractions.  These three patients all had SKY-HIGH blood pressures!  All of them had systolics over 200 and diastolics over 150!  Yeeeeee-ikes!

Isn’t it weird how these things happen in cycles?  Incidentally, all three patients were males.  And two out of the three admitted not taking their medications.  All three were dismissive of my concern.  I was able to convince two of them to immediately see their physicians.  “Your blood pressure isn’t just a little high.  It’s SCARY high.” I used those exact words.

The last thing I need, as a dentist, is to be the one that lit the fuse on the heart attack or stroke “bomb.”  These patients will sometimes get upset or claim I’m making a big deal out of nothing.  I’ll smile and say, “I haven’t killed anybody yet, and I don’t want you to be the first one.”

I also informed my patients about the potential damage of uncontrolled blood pressure (all of which don’t cause pain):

  • Kidney failure
  • Retinal damage
  • Aneurysm or stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Enlargement of the heart
  • Pulmonary edema
  • and even sexual dysfunction

Make sure you read those medical histories.  If you don’t have one already, get an automatic BP cuffs.  Take the BP before and after extractions.  And, if the patient’s BP is high, don’t take any chances!  You might even save a life!

UPDATE:  One of these patients had a stroke recently.  Click here to read more.

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4 Responses to Check Those BPs!

  1. Alan Mead says:

    I’ve found the automatic bp cuffs to be pretty inconsistent. At least on someone as big as I am (I’ve got high b.p. and find most automatic ones to read up to 20 points high vs. manual taken by a physician). What kind are you using?

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi Alan,

      When I get a high reading, I take it again… and again. And, I have found the auto cuffs to give consistent readings. I’m at home and don’t recall what kind I’m using, exactly. I’ve had a few. They do break after a while. But, the current one is a wrist cuff. Before I had an auto arm cuff. My old manual cuff fell apart years ago. Maybe I’ll get another one to confirm high readings.

  2. Hi Alan– I have had similar experiences. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that when we (respected advisors) tell patients about blood pressure issues (include other advice unrelated to their teeth), they ignore us.
    I recently had prostate surgery…I now advise all of my male patients to get PSA checks, yearly. Many already do but those that don’t seem to rather not know.
    The other night I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. I told him about my recent surgery…he revealed that he had a biopsy 2 years ago, and it came back positive.
    He now is having some discomfort.
    He immediately called his urologist.
    So what does all of this tell us about human motivation and our role as dentists.
    Maybe our approach must be changed…maybe using “stories”…like my story is a motivational tool. In the end personal symptoms work best.
    Good food for thought.
    Thanks,
    Barry

  3. Pingback: Check those BPs! (redux) | The Dental Warrior

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