Bleeding Gums Increase Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes, Autoimmune and Mental Health Disorders in New Study

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British researchers have published a new study showing that people with periodontal disease face a significantly high risk of developing a range of other illnesses, including cardiovascular disease (heart failure, stroke, vascular dementia), high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, psoriasis, and mental conditions (depression, anxiety and serious mental illness).

The study, conducted by experts at the University of Birmingham, compared the health records of 64,379 patients with a history of periodontal disease, with those of 251,161 patients with no history of periodontal disease.

Their findings revealed that patients diagnosed with periodontal disease at the start of the study were more likely to develop one of the additional conditions within three years, compared to those without periodontal disease.

Patients with periodontal disease faced a 37% increased risk of developing mental illness, 33% increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and 18% greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease over an average follow-up of around three years. Risk of developing Type 2 diabetes was increased by 26%.

Co-first author, Dr Joht Singh Chandan, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, said: “Poor oral health is extremely common, both here in the UK and globally. When oral ill-health progresses, it can lead to a substantially reduced quality of life.”

“We found evidence that periodontal disease appears to be associated with an increased risk of developing these associated chronic diseases. As periodontal diseases are very common, an increased risk of other chronic diseases may represent a substantial public health burden.”

Caroline Aylott, Head of Research Delivery at Versus Arthritis, said: “Some of the biggest challenges of arthritis, especially auto-immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which affects 400,000 people in the UK, is being able to know who is more at risk of developing it, and finding ways to prevent it.”

“Previous studies have shown that people with RA were four times more likely to have gum disease than their RA-free counterparts and it tended to be more severe.”

“This research provides further clear evidence why healthcare professionals need to be vigilant for early signs of gum disease and how it can have wide-reaching implications for a person’s health, reinforcing the importance of taking a holistic approach when treating people.”

Source: Dawit T Zemedikun, Joht Singh Chandan, Devan Raindi, Amarkumar Dhirajlal Rajgor, Krishna Margadhmane Gokhale, Tom Thomas, Marie Falahee, Paola De Pablo, Janet M Lord, Karim Raza, Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar. Burden of chronic diseases associated with periodontal diseases: a retrospective cohort study using UK primary care data. BMJ Open, 2021; 11 (12): e048296 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-048296

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