31 Mar

New study suggests severe gum disease can double the risk of high blood pressure

A new study suggests that severe gum disease can double the risk of developing high blood pressure. 

Researchers from University College London found that people who have periodontal disease are twice as likely to have high blood pressure. The team analysed data from 250 people with severe gum disease. Researchers found that those with serious gum infections were 2.3 times more likely to have a systolic reading of more than 140 mm Hg, the threshold used by medical professionals to determine high blood pressure. 

During the study, researchers from UCL analysed both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. In people who had severe gum disease, the systolic reading was, on average, 3.36 mm Hg higher and the diastolic reading was 2.16 mm higher. In people with healthy gums, only 7% have a systolic reading about 140 mm Hg. This figure rises to 14% in those with advanced gum disease. 

Dr Eva Munoz Aguilera, lead researcher, explained that patients with periodontal disease often experience high blood pressure, which is asymptomatic. The link between high blood pressure and gum disease is important because many people who are at risk of high blood pressure may be unaware, due to the fact that is does not cause obvious symptoms. If high blood pressure is detected through connections to advanced gum disease, health professionals can treat both conditions to minimise the risk of complications, including an elevated risk of heart disease. 

Head of the periodontology department at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute, Professor Francesco D’Aiuto, said that the findings of the study underline the role of periodontal bacteria in increasing the risk of inflammatory responses that can contribute to systemic illnesses, such as hypertension (high blood pressure). The study also revealed that many people who had high blood pressure were unaware of the condition and of its potential implications for cardiovascular health.