February is National Heart Month, which is an awareness campaign run annually by The British Heart Foundation. The aim is to make people aware of all the risks and warning signs from heart conditions, as Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the UK’s number one killer, and the world’s according to the World Health Organisation.
According to figures from the British Heart Foundation here are 7.4 million people in the UK living with CVD which proves fatal for 460 people daily.
What causes Cardiovascular disease?
There are numerous risk factors including, but not limited to;
- Smoking – smokers are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers
- Physical inactivity
- High Cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Family history
- Poor oral health
Poor oral health is listed, what is the connection?
The very reason we have written this article, and numerous others regarding general health, is because the mouth and oral health can have a surprising impact on other parts of your body. Did you know that people with poor oral health have a higher chance of diabetes, suffering a stroke or developing Alzheimer’s.
In relation to your heart, research carried out in the last two decades has suggested that people who have periodontal disease are twice as likely to also have coronary artery disease. Some of the research has suggested that the link between gum disease and heart disease is due to bacteria in the mouth which can cause bleeding gums, leaving a way for the bacteria to get into the blood stream.
The bacteria then produce protein which can cause platelets in the blood to stick together in the heart blood vessels, making clots more likely to form. These clots can reduce blood flow so the heart doesn’t get all the oxygen and nutrients which it needs. A heart attack could be caused if this blood flow is badly affected.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
What can you do?
If preventing gum disease may lower your risk of developing heart disease, isn’t it worth flossing and brushing regularly? You should also visit us every six months for a full dental health check and follow our advice regarding thorough professional cleaning of your teeth. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please speak to any member of the team at London Holistic Dental Centre, and most importantly, if you haven’t had a hygiene appointment in some time please make sure you book one at your soonest convenience.
Anything else I can do? Also, throughout February there are numerous screening programmes to check for high cholesterol and/or blood pressure. These have been organised as part of National Heart Month as many of us have been more sedentary and perhaps eating more unhealthily during these two years of lockdowns and uncertainty. The most obvious change is that many people are still working from home so don’t have the exercise involved in the morning commute. Click here to visit the British Heart Foundation website for more details on their screening programmes.