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Home Home Oral Health More Evidence Ties Gum Health to Stroke Risk
More Evidence Ties Gum Health to Stroke Risk
News - WebMD Oral Health
Jupiter, FL Dentist

By Karen Pallarito

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 23, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Adults with gum disease may be twice as likely as people with healthy gums to suffer a stroke, new research suggests.

It's not the first study to link gum disease and brain attacks caused by blood clots.

However, the new findings expand on that knowledge by demonstrating a "dose-response" relationship.

"The higher the level of gum disease, the worse the risk," explained study author Dr. Souvik Sen, chair of neurology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, in Columbia.

Stroke risk rose with the level of gum disease; it was 1.9 times, 2.1 times and 2.2 times higher for people with mild, moderate and severe gum disease, respectively, the findings showed.

One stroke expert said that was the most intriguing discovery in the study.

"The fact that it is a dose-effect relationship, it's an important finding," said Dr. Maurizio Trevisan. He is dean of the City University of New York School of Medicine in New York City.

"Unfortunately, it still does not prove the cause/effect relationship because it's an observational study," said Trevisan. However, he was involved in the first major study, published in 2000, showing a relationship between poor oral health and stroke risk.

Researchers still don't know why people with gum disease have a higher stroke risk. The levels of inflammation found in both gum disease and hardening of the arteries may play a role.

Sen explained that "when that hardening of the blood vessels happens in the brain or the neck, it can lead to a stroke."

But there may be other reasons. It could be that people who neglect their oral health are also less likely to go to the doctor for medical conditions or take medications as prescribed, he added.

"The question still remains whether, if we treated gum disease, can we prevent strokes and heart attacks? -- or not," Sen said.

He and his team used data from a large prospective analysis sponsored by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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