Heart attack: How your oral health could increase your risk of the deadly condition
Brian May says he’s ‘grateful to be alive’ after heart attack
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Heart attacks occur when blood and oxygen become blocked, usually by a blood clot. The most common underlying cause of blood clots is coronary heart disease (CHD), a process whereby coronary arteries (the major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood) become clogged with deposits of cholesterol. These deposits are called plaques.
Gum disease begins when the sticky, bacteria-laden film dentists refer to as plaque builds up around the teeth.
It’s a completely different type of plaque which is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in blood that can build up inside arteries.
Known as atherosclerosis, this fatty plaque is the hallmark and breeding ground for heart disease and heart attacks.
Dr Hatice Hasturk of the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute, a research organisation focused on oral health said: “Periodontal disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation.
“Acute inflammation, which involves an outpouring of immune cells that attack irritants and microbial invaders, fosters healing over the short term.
“But long-term inflammation is a key contributor to many health problems.”
Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium which is the fibrous bad that surrounds your heart.
Dr Michael Mosley explained: “It can occur after a viral or bacterial infection or following a heart attack.
“But often the cause is unknown and there is an emerging theory that the bacteria that cause gum disease may also play a role in a number of major health problems.
“Some scientists say it’s because these bacteria have also been found in the brain and heart tissue samples of people who have died of these illnesses.”
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said the surest sign of gum disease is inflammation.
It added: “Gingivitis can cause red, painful, and tender gums.
“Periodontitis can then develop which can cause bad breath and affects the tissues that hold your teeth in place.
“If periodontitis isn’t treated your jawbone may become damaged, and your teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.”
One of the most common symptoms of heart disease is a heart attack.
You can lower your risk of a heart attack by making some small diet or lifestyle changes.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will lower your chances of fatty deposits in your arteries.
If you think you, or someone you know, may be having a heart attack, it’s crucial that you dial 999 straight away.
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