ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
CANCER
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Less May Slow Aging Process
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Fruit Even Healthier Than Thought: Study Shows
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Death
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
EYE CARE, VISION
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
FITNESS
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
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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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