Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet found that people who have undetected diabetes are at risk of developing periodontal disease and heart disease. The findings of their study have been published in the Diabetes Care journal.
The study was undertaken by dentists and cardiologists, and involved analysing and evaluating data collected for a previous study. The data was harvested from patients treated at 17 Swedish cardiology clinics, and data related to 805 patients who had suffered from myocardial infarction was compared to information linked to 805 control subjects. The participants were matched according to gender, age and post code. Glucose load tests were carried out, and the research team also assessed the dental health of individuals using X-rays.
Participants who had already been diagnosed with diabetes were ruled out of the study, which left a total of 712 myocardial infarction patients and 731 controls. The groups were then divided according to their glucose status, creating normal, ‘reduced glucose tolerance’ and ‘newly detected diabetes’ categories.
The study suggests that undetected diabetes is linked to an elevated risk of myocardial infarction and periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. Lead author, Anna Norhammar, claimed that the findings highlight the importance of monitoring blood sugar levels and underline the connection between oral and general health. This study builds on previous projects, which have linked diabetes to increased susceptibility to gum disease and cardiac complications.
In lights of the findings, the research team has called for increased collaboration between dental and medical professionals. Researchers suggest that doctors caring for patients with diabetes should view the condition as a risk factor for dental health issues and that doctors and dentists should work together to achieve optimum health outcomes.