Previous research studies have reported a link between periodontal (gum) disease and the development of heart disease and the metabolic syndrome (which is pre-diabetes). Gum disease is associated with inflammation which can increase the risk for heart problems and increase the development of belly fat. A recent meta-analysis of 7 research studies with over 345,000 people was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (2008). This review found that gum disease was associated with a 24% increase in the risk for heart disease.
Systemic inflammation can affect the blood vessels throughout the body. When someone has a high cholesterol level along with inflammation they are at a higher risk for plaque rupture. When plaque (plaque is the accumulation of fat/cholesterol inside the blood vessel wall) inside the blood vessel ruptures the blood comes into contact with the fat and cholesterol and a blood clot can form – the blood clot can block off the blood vessel which can lead to a heart attack. People with high cholesterol levels should think about having their inflammation level checked. There are simple blood tests (c-reactive protein or the PLAC test) which can be performed to detect your inflammation level. People with gum disease may benefit from having their inflammation level checked. Gum disease is a relatively new risk factor for heart disease. So talk to your dentist or doctor if you have gum disease to further assess your risk for heart disease.
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