In a recent research initiative it appears that the severity and extent of chronic periodontitis (gum disease) could influence the severity of a heart attack.
Researchers from the University of Granada have demonstrated that levels of periodontitis is related to the severity of acute myocardial infarction with a study of one hundred and twelve patients, who had all suffered from this kind of heart attack.
Each patient underwent a series of periodontal, biochemical and cardiological health checks and tests to support the research initiative.
It appears that “Chronic periodontitis is a risk factor and plays an important role in the prognosis of acute myocardial infarction”, according to Professor Francisco Aguado, one of the authors of the research study.
The researchers do point out that it would be necessary to conduct follow-up checks with the periodontal patients who have suffered myocardial infarction so that they can determine the risk of future coronary events, failure or even death and it is early days. There’s a lot more studying to do before anyone can conclusively confirm that gum disease is a precursor to heart attacks. However, once a link has been officially established then chronic periodontitis may well be considered an indicator in the early onset or development of a myocardial infarction.
The research, which was published in the Journal of Dental Research makes interesting reading and with both periodontitis and heart attacks are linked by inflammation being present in both the gums and the heart at this stage. So in short, the healthier your teeth and gums are, the healthier you may keep your heart according to this research.
It is important to stress that a scientific link has not yet been established – this is research that points to there being a link between severe gum disease and the heart, but it is certainly food for thought.
This potential link has previously been highlighted in the Journal of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology – whereby a 2009 consensus report suggested that gum disease could be a potential risk factor for coronary artery disease and strokes.
This study took data from more than 50,000 people and discovered that those with fewer teeth and more gum disease had a much higher risk of suffering from a stroke.
However, there are studies that suggest there is no conclusive evidence that periodontitis can cause heart disease, or that by treating gum disease you can prevent heart attacks so a scientific evaluation is what is needed to prove or disprove the theory.
We all know that the body and the mouth are complex structures but in any case, you should keep your teeth and your gums in good health – not least to ensure you keep your teeth for longer!