Add bad teeth and gums to the list of causes of heart disease. The bacteria from gum disease can cause inflammation in the heart and aorta, the largest artery in the body, which triggers cholesterol levels to rise.
Researchers from the University of Florida claim to be among the first to establish that gum disease is a cause of heart disease. An association between the two has been recognised for years, but nobody was sure if poor gums were merely an indicator of deeper problems in the heart and arteries.
But studying reactions in laboratory mice, the researchers found that oral bacteria released into the bloodstream caused inflammation in the arteries and heart, which in turn triggered the release of cholesterol as a repair agent, and this caused atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
They hope that heart associations will acknowledge the importance of gum disease as another major factor in causing heart disease.
(Source: Proceedings from the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, 19 May 2014)