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Periodontal Disease and Coronary Artery Disease
CHICAGO – October 26, 2004

Research is racing to help healthcare professionals further understand how periodontal diseases are linked to cardiovascular disease. A study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Periodontology explains another reason why people with periodontal diseases are at a significant risk for coronary artery disease (CAD).

The study looked at 108 patients with CAD with a mean age of 59.2 +/- 10.9 years and a group of 62 people without CAD with a similar mean age (57.7 +/- 8.7 years).

“The results of this study showed that periodontitis in cardiac patients was significantly more frequent than in non-cardiac patients.” said Professor E.H. Rompen, Department of Periodontology - Dental Surgery, C.H.U. Liège, Belgium. “We found that 91% of patients with cardiovascular disease suffered from moderate to severe periodontitis, while this proportion was 66% in the non-cardiac patients.”

Periodontitis seems to influence the occurrence and the severity of coronary artery disease and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke, and the study proposes two hypotheses for this occurrence. One hypothesis is that periodontal pathogens could enter the bloodstream, invade the blood vessel walls and ultimately cause atherosclerosis. (Atherosclerosis is a multistage process set in motion when cells lining the arteries are damaged as a result of high blood pressure, smoking, toxic substances, and other agents.)

Another hypothesis is based on several studies that have shown that periodontal infections can be correlated with increased plasma levels of inflammation such as fibrinogen (this creates blood clots), C-reactive protein, or several cytokines (hormone proteins).

"This study supports earlier findings, and even showed a significantly higher prevalence of periodontal diseases in cardiac patients. There is still much research to be done to understand the link between periodontal diseases and systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular, and difficult-to-control diabetes,” said Dr. Michael P. Rethman, DDS, MS, and president of the American Academy of Periodontology.

Vitamin C is one of the key vitamins needed for healthy gums. While it's not known exactly how vitamin C works, it appears to battle bacteria while promoting the formation of healthy new gum tissue. Numerous experiments in many Western countries have demonstrated that vitamin C as a supplement is extremely effective in reducing the inflammation and infection of periodontal disease, and in promoting the regeneration of gum tissue. To stimulate the gums, eat fresh fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, pineapple, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, asparagus, and strawberries.

Coenzyme Ql0, which is essential to healthy tissues, is a significant breakthrough in the fight against periodontal disease. Tests both here and in Japan have shown the remarkable effectiveness of CoQ10 supplements in reversing periodontal disease in both its early and later stages and in growing new tissue. There have been many instances of dramatic improvement in the case histories of patients who were no longer able to eat solid food until given CoQ10. I've had great success with my patients with this supplement.

Folic acid, which appears to make the cells more resistant to infection, is also help fill for periodontal disease. Food rich in folic acid includes spinach, chickpeas, and pinto beans.

Vitamin A, sometimes called the "skin vitamin," is helpful in repairing damaged tissue and fighting infection.

Calcium is also very important to prevent the loss of bone around the gums. This is called the alveolar bone, and it's the most active bone in the body, picking up calcium from the blood and giving it back. Calcium is particularly important for pregnant women and women past menopause, who frequently suffer from calcium deficiencies.

Vitamin E, which promotes a healthy vascular system while enhancing the immune response and fighting toxicity, is also valuable in restoring gums and reducing inflammation. Foods rich in vitamin E that are also good for stimulating the gums include wheat germ, peanut brown rice, walnuts, and almonds.

In addition to eating fresh foods to stimulate your gums, and taking to give your gums the nutrients they need to fight inflammation and infection, you must take a few minutes each day to take care of your teeth and gums.

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