Atherosclerotic plaques develop as a result of a low-grade, chronic, systemic inflammatory response to the injury of endothelial cells arising from lipid deposition within the intima. Increased white blood cell count (WBCC) is both a validated “biologic marker” of the extent of this inflammatory process and a key participant in the development of subsequent atherosclerotic ischemic heart disease manifesting as myocardial infarction. We sought to determine if calcified carotid artery plaque (CCAP) on a panoramic image (PI), also a validated risk indicator of future myocardial infarction, is associated with increased WBCC.
We retrospectively evaluated the PI and medical records of white male military veterans aged 55 years and older treated by a VA dental service. Established were 2 cohorts of patients, 50 having plaques (CCAP+) and 50 without plaques (CCAP-). Predictor variable was CCAP+; outcome variable was WBCC. Bootstrapping analysis determined the differences in mean WBCCs between groups. Statistical significance set at ≤ 0.05.
The study group, (mean age 74; range 59 to 91 years) demonstrated a mean WBCC of 8,062 per mm. The control group, (mean age 72 range; 57 to 94) evidenced a mean WBCC of 7,058 per mm. Bootstrapping analysis of WBCC values demonstrated a significant (P = .012) difference (95% confidence interval of difference of mean, -806, 742; observed effect size, 1004) between groups.
The presence of CCAP demonstrated on PIs of older Caucasian men is associated with elevated WBCC. Concomitant presence of CCAP on PI and increased WBCC (≥7,800 per mm) amplifies need for medical consultation before intravenous anesthesia and maxillofacial surgical procedures.

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