Gum Disease Linked to High Blood Pressure

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

MONDAY March 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Want to avoid high blood pressure? Remember to brush your teeth and floss.

A new study finds that severe gum disease can make an otherwise healthy person much more likely to develop high blood pressure.

“[Our] evidence indicates that periodontal bacteria damage the gums and also trigger inflammatory responses that may impact the development of systemic diseases, including “high blood pressure,” said study author Dr Francesco D’Aiuto, Head of the Periodontology Unit at University College London Eastman Dental Institute. He spoke in a newspaper press release Hypertension, who released the report on March 29.

The researchers studied 250 otherwise healthy adults with severe periodontitis and 250 healthy adults without gum disease. Their median age was 35, meaning half were older and half were younger.

Participants with gum disease were twice as likely to have high systolic blood pressure (140 mm Hg or more) than those with healthy gums (14% and 7%, respectively), according to the results. The systolic level – the highest number in a blood pressure measurement – is the pressure your blood puts on your blood vessels as it moves through the body.

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Although only an association and not a cause-and-effect relationship has been established, the results suggest that around 50% of adults may have undetected high blood pressure due to gum disease – a tissue infection that can also lead to inflammation. and bones or teeth. loss.

The researchers said that preventing and treating gum disease may be a cost-effective way to reduce systemic inflammation and improve the function of the endothelium, the thin wall inside the heart, and blood vessels. .

“Patients with gum disease often have high blood pressure, especially with active gum inflammation or bleeding gums,” said lead author Dr. Eva Muñoz Aguilera, senior researcher at the institute.

Because high blood pressure often does not have outward symptoms, many people may not know they are at increased risk for heart problems, she added in the statement.

According to D’Aiuto, having dental professionals screen for high blood pressure and refer them to primary care providers, while healthcare professionals also screen and refer for gum disease, could benefit patients’ health. and reduce the burden of high blood pressure and its complications.

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“Oral health strategies such as brushing your teeth twice a day have been shown to be very effective in managing and preventing the most common oral conditions, and the results of our study indicate that they may also be a powerful and affordable tool to help prevent hypertension, ”D’Aiuto concluded. .

More information

The American Academy of Periodontology has more on gum disease.

SOURCE: Hypertension, press release, March 29, 2021

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