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Poor oral health can damage cardiovascular health

A new study published by the American Heart Association has confirmed that poor oral health can be detrimental to a person’s cardiovascular health. The researchers found that people with high blood pressure taking medication for their condition are less likely to benefit from the treatment if they have oral health issues.

The investigation was focused on the medical and dental records of over 3,600 people with high blood pressure. The study revealed that those with healthier gums have lower blood pressure. These individuals also responded better to blood pressure-lowering medications compared with individuals who have gum disease, which is also known as periodontitis.

Compared to patients in good oral health, people with periodontal disease were 20 percent less likely to reach healthy blood pressure ranges. The study results suggest that patients with periodontal disease may need closer blood pressure monitoring, while individuals with hypertension may benefit from a referral to a dentist.

Dr. Davide Pietropaoli of the University of L’Aquila in Italy is the study’s lead investigator.

“Physicians should pay close attention to patients’ oral health, particularly those receiving treatment for hypertension, and urge those with signs of periodontal disease to seek dental care” said Dr. Pietropaoli. “Likewise, dental health professionals should be aware that oral health is indispensable to overall physiological health, including cardiovascular status.”

According to the researchers, their findings are consistent with previous research that linked low-grade oral inflammation with blood vessel damage and elevated cardiovascular risk.

“Patients with high blood pressure and the clinicians who care for them should be aware that good oral health may be just as important in controlling the condition as are several lifestyle interventions known to help control blood pressure, such as a low-salt diet, regular exercise and weight control,” said Dr. Pietropaoli.

The study is published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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