If You Spot This in Your Mouth, You're at Risk for Heart Attack, Says Study

Nov 28, 2022

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease." There's several ways to help lower your risk of heart disease like a healthy diet, exercising 150 minutes a week, not smoking and a surprising one–having good oral hygiene. According to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology and conducted by Forsyth Institute and Harvard University scientists, people with periodontitis are at higher risk for stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

What is Periodontitis


The Mayo Clinic states, "Periodontitis, also called gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and, without treatment, can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. Periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis is common but largely preventable. It's usually the result of poor oral hygiene. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and getting regular dental checkups can greatly improve your chances of successful treatment for periodontitis and can also reduce your chance of developing it."

The Link to Gum Disease and Heart Disease


Dr. Rahul Aggarwal, Interventional cardiologist, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center part of the Palm Beach Health Network says, "Researchers have been looking at this for at least 20 years now. We definitely see a correlation between gum disease and a heart attack but haven't seen causation. Diseases that damage blood vessels like Periodontitis can also damage the heart. If a person isn't getting good blood flow to the gums, they're more likely to have gum disease and whatever is setting that off can also do the same to the person's heart. Systemically the person may have a problem. It's a reflection of the overall health of the individual. Inflammation also plays a role and seems to increase the onset of heart disease."

Periodontitis is a Preventable Risk Factor, According to the Study


The study finds, "Severe periodontitis is independently and significantly associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in several different populations. Proposed mechanisms include bacteraemia and the associated systemic inflammatory sequelae, including elevations in C-reactive protein and oxidative stress. In populations with multimorbidity, for example chronic kidney disease with comorbid diabetes and periodontitis, periodontitis is associated with significantly reduced survival from all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. It appears therefore that periodontitis may be a modifiable non-traditional risk factor for cardiovascular disease."

Taking Care of Yourself in Vital in Lowering the Risk for Heart Disease


Dr. Aggarwal states, "The study is accurate and reasonable with the bottom-line message that you have to take care of yourself. People with Periodontitis disease likely also don't take care of themselves. They need to do things to reduce inflammation and help blood flow that will improve their oral and overall health like stop smoking and clean eating with no processed food."

What Should People Know About Heart Disease?


Dr. Aggarwal explains, "Heart health is very important for overall health. Trying to instill good habits will help to reduce cardiovascular events like a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is mostly self-inflicted. Yes, there's genetics but a lot of the disease can be prevented. Most are caused by a person's lifestyle and lack of activity. People have a lot of control and can reduce their risk with better and healthy habits. The key thing to heart health is to be proactive for your health. Look at what you're eating. There are a lot of resources to help people to have better eating and better living."

Why Ignoring the Signs of Heart Disease is Dangerous?


According to Dr. Aggarwal, "It's very important not to ignore the signs of heart disease because you can have a silent heart attack that can lead to a much bigger and catastrophic heart attack at any time. We saw this during the initial phase of COVID. People who had chest pains in the first few months of the COVID shutdown didn't go to the hospital because they were afraid. We saw an 8-fold increase in cardiac deaths during that time. People avoided going to see a doctor or ignored the signs of a heart attack. You don't know how big of an issue you have until you're evaluated by a doctor."

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