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  • Writer's picturekristin Soraya

Can Gum Disease Cause A Heart Attack?

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting a potential relationship between gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, and heart attacks. Several studies have found an association between the two conditions, although it's important to note that correlation does not necessarily mean causation.

Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It is primarily caused by the buildup of dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can progress and lead to tooth loss.

The proposed link between gum disease and heart attacks revolves around the concept of inflammation. It is believed that the chronic inflammation associated with gum disease may contribute to the development and progression of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attacks.

When gum disease is present, bacteria from the infected gums can enter the bloodstream through the gums' blood vessels. These bacteria, along with the body's immune response to them, can trigger inflammation throughout the body. This systemic inflammation may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and increase the risk of heart attacks.

Furthermore, studies have found that specific bacteria associated with gum disease, such as

gingivitis, can directly promote the development of atherosclerotic plaques. These bacteria release toxins that can damage blood vessels and promote clot formation, further increasing the risk of heart attacks.

While the evidence supporting the gum disease-heart attack link is growing, more research is needed to establish a definitive causal relationship. It's important to note that gum disease is just one of many risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks, and its contribution to overall cardiovascular risk may vary among individuals.

Nevertheless, maintaining good oral hygiene and seeking regular dental care are important for preventing and treating gum disease. Additionally, individuals with gum disease should be aware of their increased cardiovascular risk and take steps to manage other modifiable risk factors, such as smoking cessation, healthy diet, regular exercise, and control of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. As always, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and recommendations.

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