Gum disease and heart attacks linked

  • Olivia Fens

A genetic link between gum disease and heart disease has been found, according to a new study.

German researchers found that a human gene defect was found in people with aggressive gum disease (periodontitis) and those who had suffered a heart attack.

Doctors have known for years that periodontitis and coronary heart disease often go together, but the finding is the first suggesting they have the same root cause.

Additionally, the risk of both coronary heart disease (CHD) and periodontitis increases in people who smoke, are overweight or suffer from diabetes.

The study was presented at the European Society of Human Genetics in Vienna, Austria, yesterday.

Speaking at the conference, the researchers said: “Now we know for sure that there is a strong genetic link and patients with periodontitis should try to reduce their risk factors and take preventive measures at an early stage.

“We hope that our findings will make it easier to diagnose coronary heart disease at an early stage, and that in the future (these results) may open the way to effective treatment before the disease can take hold.

“In the meantime, because of its association with CHD, we think that periodontitis should be taken very seriously by dentists and diagnosed and treated as early as possible.”

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