Oral bacteria that cause bad breath may increase risk of heart disease – study

From visible plaque to cavities, the British are no stranger to dental problems. Unfortunately, research continues to indicate that your oral health condition can lead to other serious health problems. A new study has found that there may be a link between the bacteria responsible for bad breath and heart disease.

If you’re afraid of dentists or don’t spend too much time on oral hygiene, poor oral health affects more than just your smile.

A new study suggests that infection with a bacterium that causes gum disease and bad breath may increase the risk of heart disease.

A study published in the journal eLife suggested another potential risk factor that physicians should consider to identify individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease.

The culprit in question is Fusobacterium nucleatum, which describes a common oral bacterium that can cause various infections.

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Lead author Flavia Hodel said: “Although tremendous progress has been made in understanding how coronary heart disease develops, our understanding of how infections, inflammation, and genetic risk factors contribute is still incomplete.

“We wanted to help fill some of the gaps in our understanding of coronary heart disease by taking a more comprehensive look at the role of infections.”

Previous research has shown that a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors contribute to heart disease, which is responsible for about one-third of all deaths worldwide.

A buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply the heart with blood causes coronary artery disease, the most common type.

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Unfortunately, some infections are associated with an increased risk of plaque formation.

Hodel and colleagues analyzed the genetic information, health data, and blood samples of 3,459 participants who participated in the CoLaus | PsyCoLaus is a cohort of the Swiss population.

Of the cohort, about six percent experienced a heart attack or other life-threatening cardiovascular event during the 12-year follow-up period.

The research team tested participants’ blood samples for antibodies against 15 different viruses, six bacteria and one parasite.

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After the data was adjusted for known cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers found that antibodies against Fusobacterium nucleatum — a sign of a previous or current infection with the bacterium — were associated with a slightly higher risk of heart disease.

Hodel said: “Fusobacterium nucleatum may contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease through increased systemic inflammation due to the presence of bacteria in the mouth, or through direct colonization of arterial walls or plaque lining artery walls.”

If future research establishes a strong link between this bacterium and heart disease, it could lead to new approaches to identify individuals at risk or even prevent cardiovascular disease, the research team said.

Senior author Jacques Fellay added: “Our study adds to the growing evidence that infection-induced inflammation may contribute to coronary heart disease and increase the risk of a heart attack.

“Our results may lead to new ways to identify individuals at high risk or lay the groundwork for exploring preventive interventions to treat Fusobacterium nucleatum infections to protect the heart.”

In addition, this is not the first study to warn that oral health affects more than just the oral cavity.

The results, presented at the American Stroke Association International Conference in Dallas, showed that adults who are genetically predisposed to oral health problems may be more likely to show signs of brain deterioration than those with healthy teeth and gums.

Other studies have shown that gum disease, missing teeth, and improper brushing increase the risk of stroke.

The National Health Service recommends a dental check-up every six months, with some patients requiring more frequent visits to the dentist.

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