The severity of your gum disease may be an indicator of the severity of future heart attacks, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dental Research.
The study, which was performed at the University of Granada in Spain, examined 112 heart attack patients for troponin I and myoglobin levels—biomarkers used to detect heart attack—as well as severity of periodontal disease. They found that those patients with the worst periodontal disease also had the worst heart attacks.
The relationship between periodontal disease and heart attacks has been well established, particularly when it comes to the pathogens that cause periodontal disease. Several studies have found oral pathogens in heart plaque and linked pathogens to increased inflammatory biomarkers, and a recent landmark study concluded that up to half of the heart attacks were triggered by oral bacteremia. Oral pathogens have even been shown to cause problems for those recovering from a heart attack.
This study, however, “contributes the first research data demonstrating that the extent and severity of periodontitis is positively associated with acute myocardial infarct size as measured by serum troponin I and myoglobin levels.”
And while it may seem that ridding oneself of oral bacteria may help ward off a heart attack, we now know that regular use of certain mouthwashes may, in fact, contribute to heart attack risk by eliminating the good bacteria as well as the bad.
They key to minimizing risk for heart attack is addressing any and all potentially contributing factors. This study further verifies the association between oral health and cardiovascular disease and exemplifies the need of a coordinated care team to address the microbial risk factors without harming the body’s natural microbiome.