Gum disease can increase risk of heart attack, stroke

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In a new study, researchers found that people with gum disease periodontitis are at higher risk of major cardiovascular events like strokes and heart attacks.

They showed that inflammation linked to active gum disease was predictive of arterial inflammation, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other dangerous health conditions.

The research was conducted by Forsyth Institute and Harvard University scientists and colleagues.

In the study, the team performed positron emission tomography and computer tomography (PET and CT) scans on 304 people to view and quantify inflammation in the arteries and gums of each patient.

In follow-up studies four years later, 13 of those people developed major adverse cardiovascular events.

The team found the presence of periodontal inflammation was predictive of cardiovascular events, even after researchers controlled for all other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

Importantly, the researchers found that bone loss from prior periodontal disease was not linked to cardiovascular events.

Patients that did not have actively inflamed gums had a lower risk of heart disease.

The researchers hypothesize that local periodontal inflammation activates and mobilizes cells signaling through bone marrow, which triggers the inflammation of arteries, leading to adverse cardiac events.

These findings are very related to people who have currently active inflammatory disease.

The team says for people with active gum disease, seeking treatment could potentially prevent a dangerous heart attack.

One author of the study is Dr. ThomasVan Dyke, Senior Member of Staff at Forsyth.

The study is published in the Journal of Periodontology.

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