ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
CANCER
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
CAREGIVING
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
DIET, NUTRITION
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
EYE CARE, VISION
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
FITNESS
Maximize Your Run
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimerís
Drink Away Dementia?
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
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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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