Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
April 05, 2021
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Periodontitis linked to elevated BP

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Periodontitis may be associated with elevated systolic BP in otherwise healthy individuals, according to research published in Hypertension.

“Patients with gum disease often present with elevated blood pressure, especially when there is active gingival inflammation, or bleeding of the gums,” Eva Muñoz Aguilera, DDS, clinical lecturer at Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, said in a press release. “Elevated blood pressure is usually asymptomatic, and many individuals may be unaware that they are at increased risk of cardiovascular complications. We aimed to investigate the association between severe periodontitis and high blood pressure in healthy adults without a confirmed diagnosis of hypertension.”

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In a nested, case-control study, researchers compared 250 patients with periodontitis with 250 control patients to investigate the relationship between inflammatory gum disease and BP. Researchers assessed association between periodontal measures and BP, and further investigated the role of systemic inflammation.

Compared with controls, people with periodontitis presented with higher mean differences in systolic BP (3.36 mm Hg; 95% CI, 0.91-5.82; P = .007) and diastolic BP (2.02 mm Hg; 95% CI, 0.24-4.08; P < .027). Further, periodontitis diagnosis was associated with greater odds of systolic BP of at least 140 mm Hg (14% vs. 7%; OR = 2.3; 95% CI, 1.15-4.6; P = .018) compared with controls.

“This evidence indicates that periodontal bacteria cause damage to the gums and also triggers inflammatory responses that can impact the development of systemic diseases including hypertension,” Francesco D’Aiuto, PhD, DMD, head of the periodontology unit at Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, said in the release. “This would mean that the link between gum disease and elevated blood pressure occurs well before a patient develops high blood pressure. ... Integration of hypertension screening by dental professionals with referrals to primary care professionals and periodontal disease screening by medical professionals with referrals to periodontists could improve detection and treatment of both conditions to improve oral health and reduce the burden of hypertension and its complications.”