ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Winter Is Tough on Feet
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
CAREGIVING
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Less May Slow Aging Process
Eat Light - Live Longer
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
FITNESS
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
Football Can Shrink Players
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Multivitamins Might Prolong Life
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
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An Oral Approach to Heart Disease

THURSDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Irish researchers are trying to develop a new way of attacking heart disease -- through the mouth.

"We are trying to understand the mechanisms by which oral bacteria colonies can lead to cardiovascular disease," said Steve Kerrigan of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, and the principal investigator in a group that will report on the effort Thursday at the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Dublin.

People with poor dental hygiene, especially those with bleeding gums, are prey to more than 700 different types of oral bacteria, Kerrigan noted. "When those bacteria get into the bloodstream, they interact with platelets, the blood cells that can clump. The bacteria can cause them to clump together to form clots that can partially block blood vessels," he said.

Kerrigan and his colleagues, including Dr. Howard F. Jenkinson of the University of Bristol, have been investigating the cell surface proteins that allow bacteria to interact with cell platelets.

"We are trying to find new drugs that prevent this interaction," Kerrigan said. "The treatment now for this condition is aggressive antibiotic treatment. With all the controversy about antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is emerging, it would be best not to use antibiotics. If we find the ways the bacteria are causing the platelets to clump, it would be a new treatment target."

Analysis of the genes of streptococci often found in the mouth has identified a number of proteins responsible for the adherence of bacteria to platelets, Kerrigan said. "We have a few targets that we are researching just now," he said. "We have some good leads at the moment, and are trying to refine what we have found."

While "there is no definitive study that shows a cause-and-effect relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease," said Sally Cram, a Washington, D.C. periodontist who is a consumer adviser to the American Dental Association, "we have a number of studies coming out that indicate a strong relationship between infection in the mouth and gums and other things in your health, such as diabetes and heart disease."

Even although the case may not be completely proven, she added, "I tell my patients that, given that periodontal disease is preventable by doing certain things that take five minutes a day, it is worth doing those things."

Cram's recommendations are standard: brush twice a day, floss once a day, see a dentist regularly or when signs of trouble appear.

"Especially if there is a family history of heart disease or diabetes, it makes common sense to help prevent gum disease," she said.

Good oral hygiene is a necessity because bacteria easily get into the bloodstream from the mouth, from routine activities such as chewing and from tooth brushing, said Peter Lockhart, chairman of the department of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center, in Charlotte, N.C.

Earlier this year, Lockhart published a study of 290 dental patients showing that bacteria could be detected in 23 percent of them after tooth brushing, compared to 30 percent when a tooth was pulled after the patient took an antibiotic and 60 percent when no antibiotic was taken.

So oral hygiene is "a much more appropriate focus for prevention of endocarditis," infection of the lining of the heart or a heart valve, Lockhart said.

- Ed Edelson

More information

Learn about periodontal disease and its prevention from the American Dental Association.



SOURCES: Steve Kerrigan, Ph.D., principal investigator, Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin; Sally Cram, D.D.S., periodontist, Washington D.C.; Peter Lockhart, chairman, oral medicine, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, N.C; Sept. 10, 2008, presentation, Society for General Microbiology, Dublin, Ireland

Last Updated: Sept. 11, 2008

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