New Discovery Sheds Light on the Relationship Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease

By the Cambridge-based Forsyth Institute.

Oral inflammation and heart health have long been connected, but a new study by researchers at the Cambridge-based Forsyth Institute details how a simple, topical gum disease treatment may also be able to help prevent heart disease.

The study will be published in the May issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB), a journal of the American Heart Association.

Scientists from the Forsyth Institute and Boston University School of Medicine found that reducing inflammation associated with periodontitis (gum disease) with an oral topical remedy also prevented vascular inflammation. The study, according to Forsyth Institute reps, is the first to demonstrate the ability of an oral treatment used for gum disease to also reduce inflammation in the artery wall.

According to the study:

The active ingredient is an inflammation resolving molecule, known as Resolvin E1. This discovery further underscores the increasing body of evidence showcasing how problems in the mouth – and how they are treated – can have life changing influences on other key systems in the body, such as the heart in this case.

It is the first paper to show a rabbit model of accelerated heart disease, demonstrating a range of atherosclerotic plaque stages that more closely resemble those in humans without genetic modification of the animal.

“Our research is helping to underscore the very real link between oral health and heart disease,” said the study’s lead investigator Hatice Hasturk, DDS, PhD, director of Forsyth’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research, in a statement. “The general public understands the connection between heart health and overall wellness, and often takes appropriate steps to prevent heart disease. More education is needed to elevate oral wellness into the same category in light of proven connections to major health conditions.”

Through this and other research, the Forsyth aims create more awareness for gum disease as a “critical risk factor for heart disease, independent from diet and lifestyle.” According to the CDC, almost half of all adults older than 30 have some form of gum disease.