Good oral health can prevent heart disease
Researchers from America have found that improvements in periodontal health are linked to a slower development of atherosclerosis. This is a disease associated with narrowing of arteries through the build-up of plaques, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
In the study, researchers from the Columbia University in New York followed 420 adults, who were examined for periodontal infection and atherosclerosis. Over a period of three years, the researchers gathered over 5,000 plaque samples, which were taken from the participants’ teeth and gums, and analysed for 11 bacterial strains. In addition, fluid samples were taken from around the gums to assess levels of interleukin-1β, a marker of inflammation.
The researchers observed that improvements in oral health correlated with a slower intima-media thickness (IMT) progression, a measure used to diagnose the extent of carotid atherosclerotic vascular disease.
According to the study, there was a 0.1 mm difference in IMT change over the period among study participants whose periodontal health was deteriorating compared with those who showed improvements in their periodontal health.
"It is critical that we continue to follow these patients to see whether the relationship between periodontal infections and atherosclerosis carries over to clinical events like heart attack and stroke and test whether modifying the periodontal flora will slow the progression of atherosclerosis," said Dr Ralph Sacco, former president of the American Heart Association.
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