Good periodontal health could prevent heart disease

Good periodontal health could prevent heart disease

New York, USA: Researchers from the U.S. have found that improvements in periodontal health were linked to a clinically significant slower progression of atherosclerosis, a disease associated with narrowing of arteries through the buildup of atheromatous plaques, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

In the study, researchers from the Columbia University in the City of 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 analyzed 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 improvement in periodontal health and reduction in the proportion of a specific bacterium linked to periodontal disease 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.

The participants were originally enrolled in the Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study, a randomly sampled prospective cohort of Northern Manhattan residents.

The study, titled “Changes in Clinical and Microbiological Periodontal Profiles Relate to Progression of Carotid Intima‐Media Thickness: The Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study,” was published online on Oct. 28 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.