Looking after oral health could help patients recover after a heart attack

Looking after oral health following a heart attack could help survivors’ cardiovascular systems recover, new research has found.

The study found that the bacteria which causes gum disease can also impair the healing of arteries after a heart attack.

Researchers believe that healing could be impaired due to enzymes produced by the bacteria, which stops cells from repairing the arteries.

‘This is incredibly interesting research, which could offer hope to the future of millions of people affected by cardiovascular disease,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘There has been evidence for some time that gum disease increases the risk of cardiovascular disease but to now understand that preventing gum disease can also prevent further problems for victims of a heart attack opens up many interesting avenues for ongoing treatment.

‘This study certainly suggests that good oral health could significantly improve the outcome of patients who have a heart attack and we eagerly welcome more research into this.’

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Poor oral health has previously been linked with an increase in the chances of ischaemic strokes.

The research, presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017, found that patients who were classified as having mild, moderate, or severe periodontal disease were generally twice as likely to have an ischaemic stroke, compared to those who did not have periodontal disease.

After adjustment for a variety of factors, including age, race, gender, body mass index, diabetes, and smoking, the researchers found that:

  • Patients with mild periodontal disease were 1.9 times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke
  • Patients with moderate periodontal disease were 2.1 times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke
  • Patients with severe periodontal disease were 2.2 times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke.

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