There are many risk factors for heart attacks—age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and genetics included—per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, there are also less obvious conditions that can determine your likelihood of experiencing a major cardiovascular event. According to one study, there is even a dental condition that can even come into play. Read on to find out what it is.
Study Shows Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Damage
According to a longitudinal study published recently in the Journal of Periodontology and conducted by Forsyth Institute and Harvard University scientists, people with periodontitis are at higher risk of experiencing major cardiovascular events. Specifically, doctors found a link between active gum disease inflammation and arterial inflammation, which is responsible for causing heart attacks, strokes, and other dangerous cardiovascular disease events.
The study involved 304 individuals, who underwent tomography scans in the arteries and gums at the start of the study and then four years later. 13 of them went on to develop major adverse cardiovascular events. After controlling other risk factors, the researchers determined that Presence of periodontal inflammation was shown to be predictive of the cardio events.
“This is very definitely related to people who have currently active inflammatory disease,” Dr. Thomas Van Dyke, Senior Member of Staff at Forsyth confirmed in a press release.
Ignoring the Signs Can “Be Dangerous,” Says Researcher
It’s important to note that people who had suffered bone loss from prior periodontal disease were not at an increased risk of cardiovascular events—only those with gums that were actively inflamed. Researchers believe that the relation could be that local periodontal inflammation activates and mobilizes cells signaling through bone marrow, triggering the inflammation of arteries.
“If you’re in the age zone for cardiovascular disease or have known cardiovascular disease, ignoring your periodontal disease can actually be dangerous and may increase your risk for a heart attack,” Van Dyke said.