A new study suggests that people who have gum disease are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Researchers at the Eastman Dental Institute at University College London found that hypertension was more common in patients with advanced gum disease. As well as discovering a link between gum disease and high blood pressure, the research team also found a linear correlation between the severity of gum disease and the level of risk. Those with severe periodontitis were most likely to develop high blood pressure.
Professor Francesco D’Aiuto, study author, explained that the findings demonstrate a relationship between hypertension and gum disease, which suggests that patients who have periodontitis should be made aware of the risks. Those who are at risk of developing high blood pressure should receive advice and be checked regularly to see if further treatment is required. High blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
As part of the study, the researchers examined and analysed data from a total of 81 projects spanning 26 countries. They found that patients who had moderate-to-severe gum disease were up to 22% more likely to suffer from hypertension, while the odds almost doubled in those with the most severe cases of periodontitis.
Dr Eva Munoz Aguilera, from the Eastman Dental Institute, described the findings as “not negligible” and explained that increased blood pressure plays a crucial role in determining heart attack and stroke risk.
Symptoms of high blood pressure are not easy to spot, and most commonly, they are detected as part of routine tests or examinations for other symptoms or conditions. In addition, many people leave symptoms of gum disease untreated, increasing the risk of premature tooth loss and systemic health problems. The advice from Prof D’Auito is for patients to attend regular dental appointments, to get signs of gum disease checked out, and to undergo regular blood pressure checks if they are diagnosed with gum disease.