Periodontal Disease Associated With Cardiovascular Risk

Periodontal disorders, such as tooth loss and gingivitis, have been identified as a potential risk marker for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a large study. More than 15,000 patients with chronic coronary heart disease (CHD) provided information on their dental health, with results showing that indicators of periodontal disease (fewer remaining teeth, gum bleeding) were common in this patient group and associated with numerous cardiovascular and socioeconomic risk factors. Conversely, a lower prevalence of tooth loss was associated with lower levels of CVD risk factors, including lower glucose levels, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, systolic blood pressure, and waist circumference. Diabetes and smoking were also less prevalent among patients with more teeth, while the likelihood of higher education, alcohol consumption, and work stress was greater.

The report, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, summarized information on self-reported dental health from the STABILITY trial, a clinical trial involving 15,828 participants from 39 countries all with chronic CHD and at least one additional risk factor for CHD. This, say the authors, is the largest study of its kind to assess dental disease in coronary patients, and demonstrates a heavier burden of CVD risk factors and higher levels of biomarkers among those with more tooth loss and gum bleeding, even after adjusting for confounders such as age, smoking, diabetes, and education level. The findings suggest common risk factors for dental disease and CHD; however, the observation that poor dental health among chronic coronary patients is linked to a heavier cardiovascular risk burden does not prove a causal link between the 2 conditions. It is still a matter of debate whether periodontal disease is an independent risk factor for CHD. Some studies point to a moderate association while others are contradictory.

The current study’s findings show an association between self-reported periodontal disease and several cardiovascular risk factors and as such lend support to a possible association between the conditions.

(Source: European Society of Cardiology, April 9, 2014; ScienceDaily)