Bacteria responsible for gum disease ‘linked to heart problems’

19 May 2014

The bacteria responsible for gum disease also promotes heart disease, according to researchers from the University of Florida.

These findings could shape the way the condition is diagnosed and treated in the future.

Irina M. Velsko, lead author of the study, commented: "We report evidence that introduction of oral bacteria into the bloodstream in mice increased risk factors for atherosclerotic heart disease.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UK and across the globe, according to the NHS. Over 1.6 million men and one million women are affected by the condition and 88,000 die from it every year.

The new research suggests that although doctors are already aware that patients with gum disease have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular conditions, it isn’t seen as a risk factor.

To conduct the study, scientists infected mice with four specific bacteria - Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola, Tannerella forsythia and Fusobacterium nucleatum - know to cause gum disease and tracked how they spread.

Once the bacteria was detected in the gums, heart and aorta, researchers witnessed an increase in risk factors associated with heart disease, including cholesterol and inflammation.

Alexandra Lucas, a cardiologist from the University of Florida, said: Understanding the importance of treating gum disease in patients with heart disease will lead to future studies and recommendations for careful attention to oral health in order to protect patients against heart disease.”

Posted by Jeanette Royston


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