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September 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 7)

There’s a link between gum disease and stroke—especially among the elderly
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

There’s a link between gum disease and stroke—especially among the elderly image

There’s a link between gum disease and an inflammatory condition in the brain—elderly people with periodontitis, or inflamed gums, are four times more likely to suffer a stroke.

Chronic periodontitis and lacunar infarct, a disease of the small vessels in the brain, are common in the elderly—and they seem to be linked, say researchers from the University of Santiago de Compestola in Spain. Lacunar infarct is responsible for a quarter of all cases of ischaemic stroke, which happens when arteries that feed the brain become blocked.

They noticed the association when they examined 62 people with chronic periodontitis.

However, they’re not sure how the relationship works: does periodontitis cause lacunar infarct, or are they both manifestations of heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol levels?

But a good place to start would be to treat chronic periodontitis, especially if the sufferer is elderly, they say. It could reduce inflammation throughout the body and, from that, also lessen the chances of lacunar infarct and stroke.


References

(Source: European Journal of Neurology, 2016; doi: 10.1111/ene.13080)

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