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UB Researchers Identify Specific Oral Bacteria Most Likely To Increase Risk Of Heart Disease

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Oral biologists from the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, among the first researchers to report a relationship between gum disease and risk of heart attack, now have identified the specific types of bacteria that are most damaging to the cardiovascular system.

If the findings are confirmed, it may be possible to target the bacteria with antibiotics or vaccines and lower the risk of heart attack in persons with periodontal disease, according to Robert J. Genco, D.D.S., Ph.D., chief investigator on this and earlier studies on the connection between oral bacteria and heart disease.

The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that specific periodontal pathogens are implicated in the development of cardiovascular disease, added Genco, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of the UB Department of Oral Biology.

Results of the research will be presented by Genco here tomorrow (March 13, 1999) at the combined meeting of the American Association of Dental Research and the International Association of Dental Research.

Oral bacteria enter the bloodstream via small ulcers that develop in the gum tissue of persons with periodontal disease. They are thought to increase the risk of heart attack by: 1) contributing to plaque formation, which narrows blood vessels and increases the chance of clots forming, 2) accumulating around damaged tissue, such as a lesion in the blood vessel or a replaced heart valve, which also can narrow blood vessels and cause clots, and 3) inducing platelets to aggregate, which increases the chances of clots forming.

"We've known for some time that oral bacteria can precipitate these kinds of reactions," Genco said. "We now know that these reactions help explain how bacteria that cause gum disease can also increase the risk for heart disease."

Seeking to identify the specific oral bacteria that are most responsible for contributing to heart problems, Genco headed a case-co
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-2626
University at Buffalo
12-Mar-1999


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