Gum disease or periodontal disease may have a link to heart disease and heart attacks, but more studies are needed to confirm a connection.
Researchers believe that inflammation caused by gum disease could impact the vascular system of the body. Gum disease can aggravate and worsen existing heart conditions, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
People with poor oral health are nearly twice as likely to have heart disease as those with healthy gums and teeth, the AAP reports. Research reveals evidence that many of the risk factors are the same for both heart and gum disease. While a causality link is uncertain, smoking, age and diabetes increase the risk for both diseases.
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According to WebMD,
a study led by Dr. Moise Desvarieux of Columbia University revealed people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia, a type of stroke, were more often found to have an oral infection than others.
Dr. Desvarieux and researchers discovered people with higher blood levels of certain disease-causing bacteria in the mouth were more likely to have atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, in the carotid artery in the neck, which can trigger a stroke.
The bacteria from mouth infections make their way into the bloodstream where they can eventually lodge, causing blockages in blood vessels to the brain, leading to a stroke, according to Dr. Desvarieux. Periodontal bacteria have been found in blood vessels containing plaque. Similar results for heart attacks occur when arteries to the heart are blocked.
According to The Huffington Post
, another study conducted by the University of Florida and University of British Columbia reported additional evidence of a link between gum and heart disease during a presentation at the American Society for Microbiology.
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Mice were injected with four kinds of bacteria that cause gum disease, resulting in changes to several risk factors for heart disease. Cholesterol levels and the amount of heart inflammation increased for the mice.
Some evidence suggests that aggressive gum disease treatment lessens the effects of atherosclerosis within a few months, but the American Heart Association advises people with heart disease
or those who have had heart attacks to approach gum disease treatment cautiously.
The American Heart Association recommends the standard methods to prevent or treat heart disease, such as quitting smoking, weight management, controlling blood pressure and staying active.
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