Dental and heart experts are set to publish joint recommendations for medical and oral health professionals and patients. The advice will be agreed by representatives from the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) and World Heart Federation (WHF) at the Perio & Cardio Workshop 2019, being held 18 and 19 February in Madrid, Spain.
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, while severe periodontitis is the sixth most common chronic condition. Prof Mariano Sanz, EFP Chair of the event, said; “Both diseases affect many people worldwide; and the meeting aims to outline how periodontal health may reduce cardiovascular risk.”
There is a wealth of scientific evidence linking periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases. People with severe periodontitis are at greater risk of heart attack and stroke; particularly if they have had a previous cardiovascular event. Bacteria in the mouth promote the development of atherosclerotic plaques. Hence, in addition, severe periodontitis leads to inflammation throughout the body; but increases the severity of atherosclerotic plaques, thereby blocking or reducing arterial blood flow.
Workshop participants will discuss four key areas:
1.Epidemiological evidence linking periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases;
2. Biological mechanisms for the increased risk of atherosclerosis in patients with periodontitis;
3. Theeffect of periodontal treatment on the risk of atherosclerosis;
4. The potential cardiovascular risks of oral interventions.
Oral healthcare professionals
The subsequent EFP and WHF consensus article will be published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology; but a project will be developed to disseminate these recommendations to oral healthcare professionals, cardiologists, physicians, pharmacists, researchers, media, patients, and the public.
Prof Sanz said: “There is ample evidence that periodontal treatment reduces systemic inflammation; and other factors indirectly associated with the development of atherosclerosis. But we hope to reach a consensus on the value of periodontal health; in reducing cardiovascular risk, particularly in patients who have already had a cardiovascular event.”
Atherosclerosis, comes from the Greek words athero; meaning gruel or paste and sclerosis meaning hardness; and is a hardening of the arteries; it is the most common cause of heart disease. Precisely what causes atherosclerosis remains unknown, but research suggests that atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease which may start in childhood and as people age, it develops faster.
The pathway for blood narrows
Atherosclerosis causes plaque to accumulate on the inner walls of arteries, the blood vessels which carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body; but as the artery walls thicken, the pathway for blood narrows and this can decrease or block blood flow through the body.
But the plaque build up is the result of high levels of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances in the blood; high blood cholesterol levels increase the likelihood that plaque will build up on the artery walls this process begins in the majority of people when they are children or teenagers and worsens as they get older.
Professor Pablo Perel, WHF senior science adviser, said: “Prevention of cardiovascular disease is one of the WHF’s main goals. But we look forward to participating in this important workshop and contributing to evidence-based recommendations in relation to cardiovascular health and periodontology. Hence, prevention is a neglected area of cardiovascular disease and we will communicate the workshop recommendations to our members around the world.