US study links tooth loss to higher heart disease risk

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A study conducted in the US has linked tooth loss in middle age to an elevated risk of developing heart disease.

Dr Lu Qi, from Tulane University, New Orleans, explained that the findings demonstrated a link between losing at least two teeth in middle age and facing a higher risk of heart disease. The assertion is based on the fact that the individual can have any number of natural teeth and that they may or may not have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Dr Qi presented the findings of the study at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018, which took place in March.

In conversation with Reuters, Dr Qi suggested that there is a lack of clarity related to the link between oral health and heart health and claimed that most studies focus on existing tooth loss, rather than more recent tooth loss in middle age.

During the study period, the research team analysed data obtained from participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. All those involved were aged between 45 and 69 years old. At the start of the studies, they did not have symptoms of heart disease. In follow-up questionnaires, participants were asked if they had lost any of their teeth. The study found that people who had lost two or more teeth during the follow-up period had a significantly higher risk (23%) of developing heart disease. The figure represents the level of risk after other risk factors, such as diet, activity levels and bodyweight, were taken into account.

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