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May 17, 2012

Systemic Link between Periodontal Disease (gum disease) and Cardiovascular Disease (heart disease)

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_stampe @ 1:21 pm

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) supports the American Heart Association’s scientific statement “Periodontal Disease and Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease: Does the Evidence Support an Independent Association?” recently published in Circulation.

While current research does not yet provide evidence of a causal relationship between the two diseases, scientists have identified biological factors, such as chronic inflammation, that independently link periodontal disease to the development or progression of cardiovascular disease in some patients.

Dr. Mays and her team, want patients to be aware that maintaining periodontal health can reduce harmful inflammation in the body, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, according to the AAP, patients diagnosed with periodontal disease should be sure to inform their general health care provider and/or cardiologist to encourage better integration of their care.

There are several theories that the AAP have noted that could explain the link between the two diseases. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks. Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plague build up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Therefore, if there is a possibility of a patient having any type of heart condition it is very highly suggested to speak to a cardiologist to see if an antibiotic is necessary prior to any dental procedures, including but not limited to routine cleanings and check-ups.

Dr. Mays and her team will continue to pay close attention to any updates in regards to the link of these two diseases and keep their patients posted as well.

The above information was taken from a dental article from the American Academy of Periodontology.

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