Dr. Thomas Van Dyke, Senior Member of Staff at Forsyth, and Dr. Ahmed Tawakol of the Massachusetts General Hospital and their collaborators found that inflammation associated with active gum disease was predictive of arterial inflammation, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other dangerous manifestations of cardiovascular disease. On 304 people, researchers conducted PET and CT scans (positron-emission and computer tomography) to see and measure inflammation in their arteries and gums. In about four-year follow-up investigations, 13 of those people had severe adverse cardiovascular events occurred. When researchers took into account additional risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, they found that periodontal inflammation was still a good predictor of cardiovascular events.
Also of note, previous periodontal bone loss was not linked to cardiovascular problems. Although these patients had a history of periodontal disease as seen by periodontal bone loss in their CT scans, those without actively inflammatory gums had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well. This is linked to individuals with active inflammatory diseases, according to Van Dyke, who is also Forsyth’s Vice President of Clinical and Translational Research. Local periodontal inflammation stimulates and mobilizes cells signaling via bone marrow, according to researchers, and this causes artery inflammation, which in turn causes unfavorable cardiac events. In spite of the modest sample size, Van Dyke believes the findings are important and should be replicated in a much larger population. In addition, getting treatment for gum disease may help individuals avoid a life-threatening cardiac episode.
Journal Reference: Thomas E. Van Dyke, Karim El Kholy, Amorina Ishai, Richard A.P. Takx, Kene Mezue, Shady M. Abohashem, Abdelrahman Ali, Neal Yuan, Priscilla Hsue, Michael T. Osborne, Ahmed Tawakol. Inflammation of the periodontium associates with risk of future cardiovascular events. Journal of Periodontology, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/JPER.19-0441