New study reveals keeping your teeth clean could help prevent a heart attack
Thursday, September 06, 2007
A team of doctors in Marseille have released new study findings that reveal brushing and flossing your teeth could save you from a heart attack.
Doctors found those with the worst blockages in their arteries had the most severe gum disease.
There is mounting evidence of a link between gum disease and heart disease, but a French study claims to be the first to show that the severity of each disease may also be connected.
Chronic gum disease known as periodontitis, occurs when plaque collects around the teeth and irritates the gums. Plaque is removed when teeth are looked after properly. However, failure to brush and floss can lead to the irritated gums becoming infected. Teeth become loose and can even fall out. It is not clear how gum disease may trigger heart problems, although it is thought that bacteria released from the infected gums are the key.
The bacteria enter the bloodstream where they may activate the immune system, making artery walls inflamed and narrowed, or attach directly to fatty deposits already present in the arteries which causes further narrowing.
French cardiologists and dentists looked at 131 patients referred to hospital for an X-ray examination of the arteries. All were examined for gum disease and had their blood checked for inflammation.
Patients with artery disease had more severe periodontitis than those without, said study leader Dr Nicolas Amabile.
"The most severe teeth disease was associated with the most widespread arterial lesions," he said.
The findings by the team in Marseille were released recently at the European Society of Cardiology annual meeting in Vienna.
Dr Amabile said gum disease could be used as a new risk factor to identify those likely to develop heart disease.
"Since periodontitis is easily accessible to treatment with antibiotics and dental care, one might think its treatment could also be beneficial for coronary artery disease," he said.
"This has to be confirmed with larger studies but may represent a new original approach to handle heart disease in the future."