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Study shows relationship between oral and cardiovascular health

New research is reinforcing the longstanding belief that a connection exists between periodontal disease, or severe gum inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. But according to Moise Desvarieux, MD, PhD, infectious disease epidemiologist in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the nature of the relationship is still unclear and patients cannot rely only on good oral hygiene as a way to reduce their risk for heart disease--they must manage other risk factors for the disease as well.

"It appears a relationship exists, but we don't know exactly what it is and if it is a causal relationship.Therefore, we can't make recommendations for people with periodontal disease in respect to cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Desvarieux, whose team studies periodontal disease in relation to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, "To reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, patients must manage all their risk factors, including smoking, diabetes, and weight."

Dr. Desvarieux, who coordinates the INVEST study, an NIH-funded study in Northern Manhattan, as well as the international network investigating the oral health-cardiovascular disease relationship, spoke today at the American Medical Association and American Dental Association media briefing, Oral and Systemic Health: Exploring the Connection, in New York City.

Most research to date has been specifically on the clinical level, explained Dr. Desvarieux. Using a manual probe, dentists measure for signs of periodontal disease, including gum inflammation, gum pocket depth, or spacing around each tooth and tooth-bone attachment loss and compare these data to ultrasound measurements of the carotid artery. If cholesterol or fatty buildup is detected on the wall of the artery, there's a good chance the patient has atherosclerosis, a direct link to future stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Desvarieux and a collaborative team including r
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
23-Feb-2006


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