The correlation between gum disease and stroke risk exposed: A wake-up call

The connection between oral and brain health is an issue of growing concern. In his forensic thesis in March, Olli Patrakka, MD, PhD, of the University of Tampere, Finland, examined the role of oral bacteria, specifically viridans streptococciin the development of stroke.3,4

viridans streptococci They are normal microorganisms found in the mouth, but once they enter the bloodstream, they can cause serious illnesses such as endocarditis (infection of the heart valves). For example, they can enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums when you brush your teeth.3,4

“These bacteria stick to tooth surfaces and start the process that leads to plaque formation. Our hypothesis is that a similar phenomenon occurs when bacteria that enter the bloodstream during dental surgery or gum infections migrate to the walls of arteries. This may It accelerates the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening and inflammation of the arteries, which can lead to stroke and coronary artery disease,” Patlaka described.

Poor oral hygiene: A stroke risk factor that needs more attention

According to Patlaka, dental bacteria are present in the brain blood clots of approximately four out of five stroke patients. This finding has not been previously reported.

“In this study, cerebral thrombosis during the emergency department was collected from stroke patients treated in Tampere, Finland. In addition, the sample included endarterectomies in patients with symptomatic carotid stenosis,” said Patlaka. organize.

Epidemiological studies have shown that poor oral hygiene is an independent risk factor for stroke and that improving hygiene habits may reduce the risk.5

“My research suggests that this association may be specifically explained by an inflammatory response caused by dental bacteria in atherosclerotic plaques,” Patlaka continued.

The paper's findings are significant because they open up new possibilities for treating stroke patients. Patlaka speculated that “the development of a vaccine is also possible.”

What practical implications do the new findings have for treatments and care for stroke patients?

Dr. Tommi Pätilä, a cardiac and transplant surgeon at the New Children's Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, said: “This study reinforces the idea that oral health must be maintained, especially for those at risk of stroke. When preventing stroke, Inflammation caused by oral streptococci should always be considered and it is also critical to explore the potential benefits of timely antimicrobial therapy or bacterial vaccines in the future.

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