ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
CANCER
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
CAREGIVING
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Oregano Shown to be the Most Powerful Culinary Herb
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
HELP TO LOSE WEIGHT ON A LOW CAL BUDGET
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Death
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
FITNESS
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Less Education May Mean Poorer Health
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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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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