Study Finds Link Between Gum Disease & Atrial Fibrillation

Study Finds Link Between Gum Disease & Atrial Fibrillation

Are Portland periodontist patients suffering from periodontitis at a higher risk for atrial flutter (AFL) or atrial fibrillation (AF)? In a first-of-its-kind population-based study, researchers from Taiwan examined the potential link between atrial fibrillation and periodontitis. The results of the study suggest potentially serious issues for many of our patients at Portland Periodontics.

As part of their study, researchers examined the records of nearly 800,000 individuals in an effort to establish the potential link between periodontal disease and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation. While previous research has found inflammation to be linked with the development, severity, persistence and frequency of periodontal disease, no prior research has looked for a link between periodontal disease – a chronic inflammatory disease – and either atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation, reported researchers.

This new study hoped to answer the question of whether a link existed, and to further understand how inflammation caused by periodontal disease further impacts long-term health.

Irregular Heartbeat

Atrial fibrillation ranks as the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia in the world. The condition occurs when a patient’s heart has an irregular beat, either too slow or too fast. Thromboembolic diseases and heart failure are potential consequences linked to the condition. Previous studies have found that inflammation has an influential role in both the development of AF and how the disease progresses in patients.

Periodontitis is an inflammatory disorder caused by bacteria that has potential systemic and oral consequences that include systemic inflammation.

In the study, researcher began a review of nearly 800,000 patients that were entered into Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database between the years of 1999 to 2010. Researchers separated the patients into two groups, placing over 393,000 into the periodontal disease group and the same number into the non-periodontal disease group. The researchers then adjusted for a variety of factors, including frequency of dental visit, number of hospital visits, sex and age.

Researchers discovered that the patients in the periodontal disease group were 31 percent more likely to suffer atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter when compared to the group without periodontal disease.

Researchers also noted that patients who has scheduled at least one dental visit during the year had a lower risk of both AFL and AF when compared to those who received no dental care throughout the year.

Additional Risk Factors

The results of this study continue to add to the growing amount of research that supports the existence of a link between periodontal disease and other systemic health conditions.

In their study notes, researchers identify the shared market of inflammation between atrial fibrillation and periodontal disease. This study continues the trend of oral health experts investigating the fact that inflammation – whether it originates in the gum tissue or exists systemically – has on our overall health and wellness.

Researchers also noted that the results of this study also found an increased diagnosis of periodontal disease and increased risk of atrial fibrillation among patients who suffered from heart conditions, high blood pressure and diabetes – all of which have been previously linked to periodontal disease in previous studies.

At Portland Periodontics, we want all of our Portland periodontist patients to understand their potential risk for diseases that have been linked to periodontal disease. Considering the potential increased risk for a variety of serious, long-term health issues, treatment of periodontal disease should be considered of great importance.

If you have received a periodontal disease diagnosis from your dentist or you suffer from the signs of gum disease, you need to schedule an appointment to see one of our Portland periodontists. Don’t wait to give your oral health the care it deserves

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