ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
CANCER
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
CAREGIVING
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
EYE CARE, VISION
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
FITNESS
Maximize Your Run
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
Coffee Cuts Liver Scarring in Hepatitis C
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
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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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