Gum disease linked with heart attacks and diabetes?

A large study found that people with a prior heart attack or diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than their healthy counterparts. The research is presented at EuroPerio10, the world’s leading congress in periodontology and implant dentistry organised by the European Federation of Periodontology.

The analysis included 4,933 randomly selected participants. Participants completed questionnaires on sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, medications, and diseases such as type 2 diabetes and myocardial infarction. A clinical assessment of teeth and soft tissues was performed, along with a dental radiological examination. Weight, height, blood pressure, and serum levels of cholesterol and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) were measured.

The researchers analysed whether diabetes, elevated HbA1c, and prior heart attack predicted the likelihood of having severe gum disease. The investigators found significant associations between diabetes, elevated HbA1c, prior heart attack and severe gum disease. The presence of diabetes was assessed from self-reported questionnaires and may include a broad spectrum of severity, from poorly controlled to well controlled. Patients with diabetes are at higher risk of diabetic complications when their HbA1c levels are 48mmol/mol or above.

A total of 3.0% participants reported a prior heart attack, 4.5% stated they had diabetes, 3.3% had elevated HbA1cand 17.6% had severe periodontitis. Researchers hence suggested that people with gum disease are at greater risk of having a heart attack and developing diabetes, and also that those with diabetes are at greater risk of getting gum disease.

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