Steven Brust was hospitalized with congestive heart failure on April 19. He visited a dentist for treatment of severe tooth pain but the dentist, suspecting there was a more serious issue involved, referred him to urgent care. There an EKG looked doubtful so they sent Brust along to the ER. The heart problem was diagnosed and treated:
I’m now on more drugs: something to keep my heart beat regular, and a mild diuretic. I’m told I could use an operation to insert something into my chest that will shock my heart if it goes into, uh, I don’t remember. Ventrical a-fib, maybe? But it’s supposed to keep me alive. I can no more afford the operation than I can pay the hospital bills I just incurred, BUT….
I met with a social worker, who seems confident she can get me heath care–enough to help with those bills, and get the operation, and fix my teeth, and even deal with the fucking polyp in my nose that’s been making life interesting for several years. This is very, very good news. I am actually feeling hopeful.
I’ve never forgotten Jack Chalker’s autobiographical essay for the Fantasy Amateur Press Association that described in frank detail his severe dental problems, and echoed the warning he’d received that dental infections can lead to heart trouble.
It’s such a common problem that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a warning in this PSA:
Having bad teeth seems to be related to having a bad heart. A look at data on close to 42,000 people finds that the risk of heart disease goes up with the number of teeth people lose. The report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine said eight and one half percent of people who lost all their teeth had heart disease.
But what could link teeth and hearts? Researcher Paul Eke of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks gum disease may be the common culprit:
“Gum disease is caused by a silent, chronic infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth, that can lead to tooth loss. It is the systemic consequences of chronic infection that may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.”
Good to know Brust got a timely diagnosis.
[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]