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Gum Disease May Increase Your Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke

An ever-growing body of research links advanced gum disease and the occurence of heart attacks and strokes.

In studies conducted in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, and Germany, researchers found that people with advanced gum disease also had a 25% to 100% increased risk of suffering from a heart attack than those without advanced gum disease. By comparison, those who smoke have a 60% increased risk of suffering from a heart attack than those who do not.Heart Attack

A similar relationship exists between advanced gum disease and the development of strokes. These studies suggest that advanced gum disease may be a potential risk factor for the development of strokes and heart attacks.

How Gum Disease Could Put You At Increased Risk of Stroke and Heart Atacks

Researchers have several theories as to how gum disease may lead to strokes and heart attacks. Gum disease represents a bacterial infection of the gums, bones, and ligaments holding the teeth in place.

Gum disease damages small blood vessels running through the gums. Bacteria and their toxic products are then able to enter these damaged blood vessels and gain access to the circulation.

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Researchers believe that once in the bloodstream, certain bacteria trigger the clumping of platelets to form blood clots. These blood clots, in turn, could block arteries to the heart, leading to a heart attack, or block arteries in the brain, leading to a stroke.

While more research needs to be performed to support this theory, researchers at the University of Minnesota injected certain strains of oral bacteria from dental plaque into rabbits' veins. Immediately after, platelets in the rabbits' veins clotted and the rabbits experienced reduced blood flow to their hearts. This suggested that the clots blocked blood vessels supplying the heart. Such a reduction in blood flow could easily lead to heart attacks.

Inflammation may represent another mechanism that could work in conjuction with clot formation. It has been well known that inflammation plays a key role in atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries. When arteries harden they narrow, and the risk of developing a heart attack or stroke increases due to the reduced blood flow through the narrowed arteries.

The longer gum disease lasts, the more inflammatory molecules are produced in order to fight off the bacterial invaders. Normally such an increase in inflammatory molecules doesn't affect the body. Because gum disease can last for long periods of time if not detected, researchers believe that, over time, the inflammatory molecules begin to trigger atherosclerosis.

Alternatively, bacteria alone may damage the lining of the blood vessels, an event which could also lead to atherosclerosis. More research is currently being conducted to study the potential relationship between gum disease and heart attacks / strokes.

What You Can Do

The good news is that gum disease can be easily prevented. Make sure to floss and brush daily with Enamel Saver® Toothpaste. You should visit your dentist twice a year. She can detect gum disease in the very earliest stages and take steps to treat it.

Related Articles:

Simple Steps to Prevent Gingivitis and Gum Disease

How New Advanced Home Dental Care Products Help Prevent Gingivitis and Gum Disease

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