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          Severe gum disease poses increased risk of high blood pressure

          • A new study finds that periodontitis or severe gum disease may make an otherwise healthy person significantly more likely to develop high blood pressure.
          • People with severe gum disease may be twice as likely to have increased blood pressure.
          • Good oral health and hygiene decrease the risk of gum disease and can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and its complications.

          Gum disease has long been linked to heart problems. This new study published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, shows that people with severe gum disease may be twice as likely to have increased blood pressure.

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          Gum disease increases women’s risk of breast cancer

          Elevated blood pressure does not usually show or produce any symptoms, thus, a lot of people may be unaware that they are at increased risk of heart issues.

          Study lead author Dr. Eva Muñoz Aguilera, senior researcher at UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London said, “Patients with gum disease often present with elevated blood pressure, especially when there is active gingival inflammation, or bleeding of the gums.”

          “We aimed to investigate the association between severe periodontitis and high blood pressure in healthy adults without a confirmed diagnosis of hypertension.”

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          Signs of gum disease include red or swollen gums, gums that bleed when brushing, gums that pull away from the teeth, pus between the gums and teeth, and persistent bad breath.

          The study involved 500 adults who were healthy and had no other chronic conditions. Half of the participants have severe periodontitis, and the other half were free from severe gum disease.

          The researchers found that:

          • A diagnosis of gum disease was associated with higher odds of hypertension, independent of common cardiovascular risk factors.
          • Participants with gum disease were twice as likely to have high systolic blood pressure values ≥140 mm Hg, compared to those with healthy gums (14% and 7%, respectively).
          • The presence of active gum inflammation identified by bleeding gums was associated with higher systolic blood pressure.
          • Participants with exhibited increased glucose, LDL or “bad" cholesterol, hsCRP and white blood cell levels, and lower HDL or "good" cholesterol levels compared to those in the control group.
          • Nearly 50% of participants with gum disease and 42% of the control group had blood pressure values for a diagnosis of hypertension, defined as ≥130/80 mmHg.
          Brushing teeth twice daily can also be a powerful and affordable tool to help prevent hypertension.

          What does the results tell us?

          “This would mean that the link between gum disease and elevated blood pressure occurs well before a patient develops high blood pressure,” said corresponding author Dr. Francesco D’Aiuto, head of the periodontology unit at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute.

          It also shows that an alarmingly high number of people are unaware of a possible diagnosis of hypertension.

          Recommendations

          “Oral health strategies such as brushing teeth twice daily are proven to be very effective in managing and preventing the most common oral conditions, and our study’s results indicate they can also be a powerful and affordable tool to help prevent hypertension,” said corresponding author Dr. Francesco D’Aiuto, head of the periodontology unit at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute.