Pathogenic oral bacteria have once again been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study published in Quintessence International.
The study examined 108 people, some with chronic periodontitis and some without, for the presence of periodontal pathogens Tannerella forsythia and Treponema denticola. They found that the presence of T. denticola was significantly associated with lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides.
HDL helps get rid of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and maintain blood vessel walls, while triglycerides are the body’s primary form of fat. Low HDL and high triglycerides are both risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis.
The study authors concluded:
“[T]he presence of T. denticola could reduce the antiatherogenic potency of HDL and may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease in patients with chronic periodontitis.”
This is hardly the first time that oral pathogens have been shown to play a role in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. Earlier this year, a research team in France discovered periodontal pathogens in carotid tissues. And in another study, T. denticola was found in 49% of atherosclerotic plaque samples.
These and other studies have led researchers to surmise that periodontal disease, its pathogens, and resulting inflammation not only play a role in cardiovascular disease; they may even trigger it.
So while studies have shown that having good cholesterol levels won’t necessarily keep you from having a heart attack, it’s important to take these and other factors into account with a coordinated, integrative care team to assess and minimize risk.