Gum disease linked to heart arrhythmia

31 January 2023

According to a Hiroshima University study, periodontitis could be linked to heart arrhythmia.

According to a Hiroshima University study, periodontitis could be linked to heart arrhythmia.

Analysing data from 76 patients with cardiac disease, the team found a correlation between periodontitis and fibrosis (scarring to the heart’s left atrium, which can lead to irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation).

Shunsuke Miyauchi, first author and assistant professor with the Hiroshima University’s Health Service Center, said, “Periodontitis is associated with a long-standing inflammation, and inflammation plays a key role in atrial fibrosis progression and atrial fibrillation pathogenesis. We hypothesised that periodontitis exacerbates atrial fibrosis. This histological study of left atrial appendages aimed to clarify the relationship between clinical periodontitis status and degree of atrial fibrosis.”

Left atrial appendages were surgically removed and analysed to consider if there was a connection. The results showed that “the worse the periodontitis, the worse the fibrosis”, proving that gum inflammation may intensify heart disease.

Yukiko Nakano, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the university and co-author, said that by improving other risk factors (weight, activity level, smoking status and alcohol consumption) periodontal care could help in atrial fibrillation management. However, she pointed out that the study did not establish if one condition definitively leads to the other.

Yukiko said, “One of our goals is to confirm that periodontitis is a modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation and to promote dental specialists’ participation in comprehensive atrial fibrillation management. Periodontitis is an easy modifiable target with lower cost among known atrial fibrillation risk factors. Thus, the achievement of this study series may bring benefits for many people worldwide.”

Read the study here