Toothache may be sign to check your heart

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 October, 2008, 12:00am

Toothache, tinnitus or even pain in the little finger can be symptoms of coronary heart disease, a cardiologist said yesterday.

Speaking after the opening of a Cardiac Catheterisation and Interventional Centre at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital yesterday, Adam Leung Wing-hung said about 15 to 20 per cent of coronary heart disease patients developed symptoms that may not immediately be associated with the heart.

While 50 to 60 per cent of patients experienced angina pain, he said, some could develop signs such as tinnitus, or pain in their teeth, jaw, elbow, shoulder and even in their little finger. Dr Leung said patients often overlooked such symptoms, leading to a delay in diagnosis.

He said patients should be especially careful if these symptoms became more obvious during exercise.

He cited a case in which a patient first developed toothache and was later diagnosed with coronary heart disease.

The 57-year-old company director, who has diabetes, experienced soreness in his teeth in 2002. The pain became more obvious when he exercised. After a couple of consultations with a dentist, the cause of the pain was still unknown, with the X-ray showing his teeth were healthy.

He suspected it was related to coronary heart disease, and an examination found that his arteries were 80 per cent blocked. He recovered after undergoing balloon angioplasty.

'If a patient who suffers from toothache cannot identify the cause after consulting a dentist, he should consider the possibility of coronary heart disease and should receive a check-up as soon as possible,' Dr Leung said.