A Hidden Culprit Behind A-fib: Gum Disease

THURSDAY, April 11, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Oral health may affect heart health, a new study finds.

Researchers report that people receiving treatment for arrhythmia are more likely to maintain a healthy heartbeat if they take steps to control their gum disease.

The study involved patients with atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) who underwent catheter ablation, a procedure that uses heat to destroy a small area of ​​heart tissue that causes irregular heartbeats.

Patients with severe gum inflammation who received gum disease treatment after catheter ablation were 61 percent less likely to have a recurrence of atrial fibrillation compared with those who received no additional dental care.

Appropriate management of gum disease appears to improve the prognosis of atrial fibrillation, and many people around the world could benefit from it,” said lead researcher Dr. Shunsuke Miyauchi, assistant professor at the Hiroshima University Health Services Center in Japan.

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke fivefold because the irregular heartbeat causes blood to pool and clot in the heart, the researchers said in a background note. By 2030, more than 12 million Americans are expected to have atrial fibrillation.

In the study, researchers compared 97 patients who received catheter ablation and gum treatment with 191 ablation patients who did not receive any care for their gum disease.

The researchers said that during the follow-up period, which lasted from 8 months to 2 years, 24% of the participants developed atrial fibrillation again.

But researchers found that patients who received gum therapy were significantly less likely to have a recurrence of atrial fibrillation.

Additionally, patients whose atrial fibrillation recurred had more severe gum disease than those whose heart rhythms remained normal after ablation.

The research results were published in the April 10 issue of ” Journal of the American Heart Association.

Miyauchi said researchers were “surprised” how useful analysis of gum disease in heart patients could be in treating their heart problems.

The American Heart Association (AHA) does not consider oral health to be a risk factor for heart disease, but it does recognize that oral health can be an indicator of overall health.

The AHA says bacteria in inflamed gums can travel through the bloodstream to the heart and brain, and chronic gum inflammation may be linked to chronic health problems such as clogged arteries, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers are now studying why gum disease may affect atrial fibrillation, Miyauchi said in an AHA news release.

More information

The American Heart Association has more information about catheter ablation.

Source: American Heart Association, press release, April 10, 2024

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