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Mar 23, 2008
Mounting evidence over the past few years points to a possible link between chronic inflammatory conditions including gum disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although a clear cause and effect relationship has not been found to date, the link is gaining support through case control and epidemiological investigations.
Several studies have uncovered a relationship between gum disease and heart attacks. A Finnish study found that men who had suffered an AMI ( acute myocardial infarction ) had a significantly higher presence of recent bacterial infection. Another study of 100 patients showed that dental health was significantly worse in patients with AMI than in the control group. One seven-year study of 214 people showed dental disease was a significant predictor of coronary events leading to death.
It appears that the oral infection/coronary artery disease link occurs primarily in younger rather than older people. A major U.S. study in 1993 of almost 10,000 dental examinations concluded that gum disease increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) significantly. This association was strongest in younger males.
Some evidence has also linked gum disease with stroke. One study cross-referencing databases for stroke and dental surgery over 10 years suggested that the patients with ischemic stroke had fewer teeth and more existing bone loss about the teeth than stroke-free controls.
The research supporting a relationship between gum disease and CVD is growing rapidly. However, more studies are needed to conclusively rule out any role for confounding factors, which may influence or explain this relationship. In the meantime, gum disease is both preventable and treatable, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends practicing good oral hygiene and treating gum infections promptly. These measures should improve overall oral health and may eventually lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. Any questions about how to attain an adequate state of oral health should be directed to your dentist or oral hygienist.

Source: 9/24/2001 Heart & Stroke Foundation Canada, News Release.


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