Thursday, April 19, 2012

Periodontal Disease Causing Heart Disease: Not Worth Stressing Out About It

Patient with periodontal (gum) disease

Of course this statement is in reference to the latest American Heart Association statement which I posted yesterday.

A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) pours cold water on the idea that periodontal disease contributes to atherosclerosis, heart disease, or stroke [1].

The statement, in a paper published online in Circulation on April 18, 2012, says that although observational studies support an association between periodontal disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease independent of known confounders, they do not support a causative relationship.

The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs says it agrees with the conclusions of the AHA statement.

Lead author of the statement, Dr Peter Lockhart (Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC), commented to heartwire : "We were aware of concerns that have been reported in the lay press about the idea that gum disease can lead to heart disease, and there was an overwhelming consensus that the AHA should look into it to assess whether the science supported such concerns."

He added: "After extensive review of all the literature in this field, we were not able to find any real scientific evidence that periodontal disease causes atherosclerosis or that treating periodontal disease has any long-term effect on atherosclerosis or heart disease. Although we also haven't proved that the link is not causative, it would seem that if it were causative, it would be a small relationship. And it does not appear to be worth creating too much stress about it.

"Our message is that while good oral hygiene is obviously still important, patients should not be distracted by periodontal disease in trying to lower their rates of heart attack and stroke. Rather, they should focus on the well-known causes of heart disease such as hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol. Reducing these things can make a real difference."

Lockhart said that while periodontal disease does increase the likelihood of bacteria in the bloodstream, this is not necessarily influencing atherosclerosis.

But, folks don't throw away your toothbrushes/floss AND continue to eat sensibly, plus exercise.

Then, you have the best of both - excellent oral health AND a healthy heart!

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