How gum disease can lead to a Heart Attack
By Victor Zeines as featured in Food Matters
Scientists are now discovering that bodily inflammation is linked with a host of diseases including Heart Disease, Stroke, Lung Disease, Cancers, Alzheimer’s and others.
There are a number of bacteria that live in the mouth, some good, some harmless and some harmful. When you are healthy, the bacterial populations are kept in balance. Your healthy immune system has no problem dealing with this low level of harmful bacteria. When your general health starts to decline due to inadequate nutrition, stress or illness, the mouth chemistry changes.
Minerals in saliva tend to form solid deposits on the base of the teeth. These mineral deposits are called plaque. The harmful bacteria now find it easy to multiply and they start to increase in number. The deposits of plaque tend to protect the bacteria which lodge in the pockets around the teeth and the infection process begins.
Gum disease does not go away without treatment and is a major cause of inflammation in many people. Toxins, or inflammation which are generated as waste by periodontal bacteria get into the blood and trigger the liver to release a substance called C-Reactive Protein (CRP). It has been found that CRP is more predictive of heart attacks than the bad LDL cholesterol. While a CRP value of under 1 mg/liter is considered normal, a value of 2-3 triples your risk of heart attack and higher values can increase your risk up to seven and a half times!
Elevated CRP levels actually interfere with the process that prevents blood clots, thus causing a higher incidence of blockages in arteries which can result in a sudden heart attack or stroke. By comparison, bad cholesterol slowly builds up plaque in the arteries which often allows for some advanced warning in the form of pain or weakness.
People with the top 25% of CRP scores develop 2.5 times as much colon cancer as those in the bottom 25%. Also, CRP is implicated in Alzheimer’s. Seniors with the highest 1/3 of CRP levels had significantly more cognitive decline than those in the bottom third. Clearly it pays to know your CRP number, If your CRP is high, the causes need to be determined and corrected to reduce your number. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease and therefore an important factor in CPR levels.
In addition to gum disease, bodily infections such as a urinary tract infection, high blood pressure, smoking, lymphoma, and even being overweight can contribute to elevated CRP levels. Since periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease and is capable of elevating CRP levels, we normally request this blood test for any of our patients diagnosed with periodontal disease and its associated negative impact on overall health.
We then work with our patients to help them reduce the CRP level to a non-harmful range. Reducing CPR levels can in turn lower the risk of developing a range of chronic diseases. An adequate diet high in nutrients and supplementation are crucial in maintaining a healthy immune system and are used in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease.