When you go to the dentist, you probably assume you’ll get your teeth cleaned, fill a cavity or two, and be on your way. But after a woman’s own dentist flagged her routine blood pressure check at the beginning of her appointment as abnormal, she eventually discovered she had a much larger health problem on her hands: an aortic aneurysm.
Texas-based Patricia Greer was hesitant to do anything when her dentist’s staff took her blood pressure and the reading came out 180/100 — compared to the baseline of 120/80. “I was shocked at how high it was,” she explained told TODAY. “I mean it was awful, but I kind of at first wanted to just blow it off.” It wasn’t until her dentist refused to continue their appointment and gave her a referral for a cardiologist that she decided to take those concerns seriously.
Heeding that advice, she found out days later that she had an aortic aneurysm, a giant bulge in the aortic artery that carries blood away from the heart to the chest and eventually the rest of the body. If untreated, it can lead to a tear that can burst, resulting in further heart damage or even death. After monitoring her health for several years, Greer’s doctors recommended she have open-heart surgery, which she successfully underwent this year.
While Greer has recovered, she hopes her ordeal serves as a reminder to take warnings from all of your medical professionals seriously. “When I went in last time to get my teeth cleaned, I said, ‘You really have to understand that you saved my life. If it hadn’t been for you explaining that I need to go have it checked, I probably wouldn’t have done it,’” she said.
Plus, considering many people see their dentists two times a year and in some cases go years without seeing other specialists, it never hurts to consider what your dentist tells you!