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article imageStudy: Regular teeth brushing may offset heart problems

By Andrew John     May 28, 2010 in Health
Brushing your teeth could help offset the risk of heart disease, according to new research published today. But you shouldn’t neglect other factors that can lead to cardiovascular problems, say campaigners.
The BBC reports that a Scottish study of more than 11,000 adults has found that those with poor oral hygiene had a 70 percent greater risk of contracting heart disease, compared with those who brushed twice a day.
The study was carried out by the British Medical Journal, and backs up previous research in this area, which showed a link between gum disease and heart problems.
However, Judy O’Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, is quoted as saying: “If you don’t brush your teeth, your mouth can become infected with bacteria, which can cause inflammation.
“However, it is complicated by the fact that poor oral hygiene is often associated with other well-known risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking and poor diet.
“Good personal hygiene is a basic element of a healthy lifestyle,” she added. “But, if you want to help your heart, you should eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and take part in regular physical activity.”
“It is known that inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, has an important role in the build-up of clogged arteries, which can lead to a heart attack,” says the BBC report.
For the study, data was collected on lifestyle behaviour such as oral health routines, smoking and physical activity. those taking part were also asked how often they brushed their teeth and visited their dentist.
“Then nurses collected information on medical history and family history of heart disease, took blood pressure and blood samples,” says the BBC.
Cardiovascular events
“Overall, six out of ten people said they visited the dentist every six months and seven out ten reported brushing their teeth twice a day.
“Over the eight-year study there were 555 ‘cardiovascular events’ such as heart attacks, 170 of which were fatal.
“Taking into account factors that affect heart disease risk, such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history, the researchers found those who brushed twice a day were at a lower risk.”
The study leader, Professor Richard Watt, of University College London, said future research would be needed to confirm whether the link between oral health and cardiovascular disease “is in fact causal or merely a risk marker.”
More about Brushing teeth, Heart disease, Cardiovascular, British heart foundation, Oral hygiene
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