Bad Teeth May Signal Risk for Heart Attack

Elderly persons with active root caries, a type of tooth decay, have an increased risk of having irregular heart beats. This study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


A total of 125 generally healthy individuals over the age of 80, living in urban, community-based populations were examined. Researchers discovered that persons with three or more active root caries had more than twice the odds of cardiac arrhythmias of those without. Researchers indicate that root caries may be a marker of general physical decline in the elderly and specifically underscore the mouth as an integral part of the body.

“The findings make a strong case for the active assessment of and attention to oral problems for the older community-dwelling population,” states Poul Holm-Pedersen, lead author of the study. Because arrhythmias can signify other possibly undiagnosed diseases in older people, researchers stress the importance of taking dental diseases seriously.

The advanced age of those who participated in the study may have been a factor in determining an association between overall periodontal disease and arrhythmia since those who might have been strong examples of this association may not have survived to age 80.

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