Treating gum disease may ward off an irregular heartbeat

Regular dental checkups can prevent gum disease

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Treating gum disease after surgery to correct irregular and abnormally fast heart rates may reduce the risk of recurrence of heart disease.

The condition, called atrial fibrillation, causes irregular heartbeats and increases the risk of stroke and even heart failure. In advanced cases, it can be treated with catheter ablation, a procedure that very carefully destroys damaged areas of the heart that interrupt electrical circuits.

Now, Shunsuke Miyauchi of Hiroshima University in Japan and colleagues have shown that gum disease may be a risk factor for atrial fibrillation.

The team recruited 288 patients with gum disease who underwent ablation to treat atrial fibrillation. Of those, 97 were treated for gum disease after three months.

Over a follow-up period of up to two years, 24% of participants developed atrial fibrillation again, but those who received treatment for gum disease after ablation were 61% less likely to develop atrial fibrillation.

The more severe the gum disease, the higher the risk of developing atrial fibrillation again.

If the gum tissue becomes inflamed or even ulcerated, bacteria and inflammatory immune proteins can enter the bloodstream, which can affect the heart, Uchiko said.

The researchers also measured levels of inflammatory proteins in the participants' blood before they underwent ablation and found that these inflammatory proteins were elevated in people with severe gum disease. Higher levels of antibodies to gum disease-associated bacteria are also associated with higher rates of recurrence of atrial fibrillation, In Utero said.

The team encourages people with atrial fibrillation to seek treatment for gum disease if necessary. It can be prevented by brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing or using interdental bars every day, and visiting your dentist regularly.

Nieca Goldberg of the New York University Grossman School of Medicine noted that the study was relatively small, with only 97 participants treated for gum disease. While many attempts have been made to prove a link between gum disease and heart disease, this study does not show a clear link between recurrence of atrial fibrillation.” Still, “it does set the stage for future research in this area.” foundation.”


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