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Heart Disease & Periodontal Health

Coronary heart disease affects more than 60 million Americans and is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Coronary heart disease occurs when plaque and fatty proteins build-up on the walls of arteries. The build-up causes the arteries to narrow, therefore constricting blood flow. Shortness of breath and chest pain is caused by the restriction of oxygen from traveling to the heart.

The link between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease is that periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs and begin new infections; the heart is one of the most susceptible organs. Also, the oral bacteria attach to the fatty plaques in the coronary arteries and contribute to clot formation. Blood clots disrupt normal blood flow and restrict the amount of nutrients and oxygen needed for the heart to properly function.

Periodontal disease creates an inflammatory response in the body whereby white blood cells and C-reactive proteins are at an increased level. C-reactive proteins are associated with heart disease and when levels are increased in the body, it intensifies the body’s natural inflammatory response. The bacteria that are associated with periodontal disease enter the bloodstream which causes the liver to produce added C-reactive proteins leading to inflamed arteries and blood clots. Inflamed arteries lead to blockage which causes heart attacks or strokes.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are twice more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those without and also more susceptible to strokes.

 
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