ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
CAREGIVING
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Go Healthy, Not Hungry for Holiday Eating
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
EYE CARE, VISION
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
FITNESS
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
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
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Help Your Kids Stay Active
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
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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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