ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
CAREGIVING
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Compound in Red Wine Fights Ravages of Age
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
EYE CARE, VISION
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
FITNESS
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Food and Water Supply Poisoned by Perchlorate
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Add your Article

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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