Heart attack occurs when a coronary artery becomes suddenly blocked, stopping the flow of blood to the heart muscle and causing damage. Heart diseases cause more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK. That is nearly 170,000 deaths each year with an average of 460 deaths each day or one every three minutes in the UK, according to the British Heart Foundation. Knowing the early signs and symptoms could be a matter of life or death for you or someone else.
Recently, dentists, researchers and doctors have begun to examine the link between oral health and overall health.
One area they’ve focused on is the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is inflammation of the gums. It can lead to the breakdown of the gums, teeth and bone tissues that hold them in place. Heart disease refers to a broad set of conditions, including heart attack and stroke.
Heart disease is caused by the narrowing or blockage of important blood vessels.
For decades, researchers have probed the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health.
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 focussed 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.”
Recent research presented at the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference 2019, together with the 10th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress, has also uncovered a lesser-known risk factor associated with poor dental health.
Oral disease is an inflammatory disease that frequently causes tooth loss due to the breakdown of periodontal tissue.
Periodontal tissue both surrounds and supports the teeth, providing the components necessary for your teeth to function.
The link between oral disease and cardiovascular disease is not well known, so researchers conducted a secondary analysis of the 2014 Behaviour Risk Factor Surveillance System that looked at tooth loss not caused by trauma, as well as cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, angina and/or stroke.
If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance, said the national health body.
The health body continued: “Do not worry if you have doubts.
“Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.”
If you have noticed bleeding gums, it’s important to speak with either your GP or dentist for early treatment.
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