06:57am Tuesday 12 December 2017

Scientists identify a rise in life-threatening heart infection

  • Findings play important role in understanding impact of oral health on heart
  • 35 extra cases of serious heart infection every month in the UK
  • Prescription of antibiotic prophylaxis has fallen by 89 per cent

HeartThe pioneering study is the largest and most comprehensive to be conducted with regards to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, which recommended dentists should no longer give antibiotics before invasive treatments to people considered at risk of the life threatening heart infection, Infective Endocarditis (IE), which in 40 per cent of cases is caused by bacteria from the mouth.

The team of international researchers, led by Professor Martin Thornhill at the University of Sheffield’s School of Clinical Dentistry, discovered that since the NICE guidelines were introduced in March 2008, there has been an increase in cases of Infective Endocarditis above the expected trend. By March 2013 this accounted for an extra 35 cases per month.

They also identified that the prescribing of antibiotic prophylaxis fell by 89 per cent from 10,900 prescriptions a month, before the 2008 guidelines, to 1,235 a month by March 2008.

Martin Thornhill, Professor of Translational Research in Dentistry at the University of Sheffield, said: “Infective Endocarditis is a rare but serious infection of the heart lining. We hope that our data will provide the information that guideline committees need to re-evaluate the benefits, or not, of giving antibiotic prophylaxis.

Professor Thornhill stressed that healthcare professionals and patients should wait for the guideline committees to evaluate the evidence and give their advice before changing their current practice.

He added: “In the meantime, healthcare professionals and patients should focus on maintaining high standards of oral hygiene. This will reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth which have the potential to cause Infective Endocarditis and reduce the need for invasive dental procedures to be performed.”

The data analysed by an international collaboration of experts from the University of Sheffield, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust, and the University of Surrey in the UK, as well as from the Mayo Clinic and the Carolinas HealthCare System’s Carolinas Medical Center in the USA, is published in The Lancet and will be presented today (18 November 2014) to more than 19,000 delegates from across the world at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Chicago.

The research was funded by a grant from national heart charity Heart Research UK, healthcare provider Simplyhealth and the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK, said: “The findings play an important part in the ongoing exploration of the link between dental and heart health.

“Projects such as this one are vital to the ongoing collation of evidence to support our understanding of how oral health can impact upon the heart and other conditions within the body. We are committed to furthering medical research in the UK and welcome these new findings.”

Additional information

For the full article please visit http://press.thelancet.com/endocarditis.pdf

The University of Sheffield
With almost 26,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

 

Contact

 

For further information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859


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