Heart Attack Statistics: Dental Invader Found in Heart Plaques

Heart attack statistics stem from multiple factors; the famous one cause : one cure model that dominates medicine just doesn’t fit here.

It would be wonderful, though, if this were true.  That means that treating everyone with a statin to lower his or her cholesterol would actually work.  Or lowering everyone’s high blood pressure with a beta blocker, ACE-inhibitor or calcium channel blocker would yield amazing outcomes.  Or the identification of a single genetic factor that caused heart disease would yield the biggest blockbuster drug ever.

Alas, heart disease is multifactorial and requires a comprehensive lifestyle approach to avoid or manage it (you can read my recommendations by downloading my free ebook here).

But this does not mean that there are not certain factors that play major roles in the development of sickened blood vessels that ultimately lead to a heart disease or fatal myocardial infarction.

And it’s not cholesterol.

Chronic inflammation is arguably one of the key factors that contribute to heart disease.  Chronic inflammation comes from many sources, including poor dietary choices, stress and sedentary lifestyles.  Chronic infections are on the list.

Key among these is the oral cavity and the gut.  Which brings us to this particular study.

Researchers looked for the presence of bacteria within the plaques (thrombi) from patients who suffered a heart attack and compared the levels of certain bacteria to those found floating around in the bloodstream.  Here’s what they found:

  1. The total amount of bacterial DNA in the thrombi was 16 times higher than in the blood.
  2. Viridans streptococci (a bacteria typically associated with dental infections), was found in 78.2% of thrombi.
  3. Bacteria associated with periodontal disease were found in 34.7% of the plaques.
  4. Bacteria-like structures were detected by in a subgroup of 30 patients with a heart attack that were examined by a specialized CAT scan, those with a periapical abscesses were 13.2 TIMES more likely to have viridans streptococci DNA found in his or her plaque (Tweet this).

The bottom line is that, although our country’s disturbing heart attack statistics are the result of many different things going wrong in the body, it is very clear that good oral health needs to play a role in a heart-healthy lifestyle.

We all know that this includes brushing, flossing and regular dental visits, but how many of you out there use a tongue scraper as well?

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.