Gingivitis and Coronary Artery Disease

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Inflammation caused by things like gingivitis can cause inflammation throughout the body, says Dr. Marcus St. John, Cardiovascular Specialist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute.

The process by plaque or cholesterol builds up in the artery is fueled by inflammation. “If you have very inflamed gums for instance your rate of atherosclerosis could be increased,” he says.

Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, diabetes, obesity, high saturated fat diet and family history are some of the coronary artery disease risk factors.

I wanted to ask, I heard that… Cuz we’re talking about plaque builds up in the heart. I heard from a dentist friend of mine that plaque buildup in the teeth leads to plaque buildup in the heart, true not true? >True, not a direct one-to-one leading but inflammation caused by things like gingivitis or perhaps even lesser degrees of inflammation in the gums can cause inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation just means the body’s response to… to injury. And if we looked again at that graphic of the artery that we showed you earlier, I don’t if we can jump back to that, the process by which plaque or cholesterol builds up in the artery is fueled, if you will, by inflammation. So if you have very inflamed gums for instance your rate of atherosclerosis could be increased, and then inflammation is also part of the process by which that plaque itself can get very thin at the surface and can lead to what we call plaque rupture which can then precipitate a full-blown heart attack. >okay, let’s talk about the risk factors for coronary artery disease. These risk factors are the same for a lot of different types of heart diseases, of course number one on the lis: Smoking. I think we got that, memos been out a while right — yes — okay, so smoking no good. High cholesterol. — yeah — High blood pressure, and then if you’re a physically inactive, obese, high saturated fat diet, diabetes, or family history. Is What… Is this the proper order that we see the risk factors or is it equally divided? or… >I think that’s a very good order, especially since things like smoking are so eminently treatable. You can’t change your family history, it’s sometimes hard to to lose weight very quickly. You can put down that first cigarette and really have immediate benefits on your health. So I think that’s a reasonable order. But they… they all work together and… and the combination of two plus two risk factors is in four but six if you will, so it’s just very important to do what you can with each of the risk factors. And people often have the notion well it’s all or none. But small steps really can lead to big changes if you sustain them over time. So it’s it’s just as simple as skipping the next cigarette, or taking the first 10-minute walk and then building upon that.
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