Genetic Link Between Heart Disease, Common Dental Disease

Genetic Link Between Heart Disease, Common Dental Disease

Reported June 08, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – For the first time, scientists have discovered a genetic link between the dental disease periodontitis and coronary heart disease, according to a new study.

German researchers said they have found a genetic variant situated on chromosome 9 that is shared between the two diseases.

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death across the world, and periodontitis, which leads to the loss of conductive tissue and the bone support of teeth, is a major cause of tooth loss in adults over 40. Periodontitis is so common that it’s estimated 90 percent of people over the age of 60 suffer from it.

Both coronary heart disease and periodontitis are associated with the same risk factors, including smoking, diabetes and obesity, and men are more likely to have these diseases than women. Researchers also found similarities in the bacteria found in the oral cavity and in coronary plaques, and both diseases are characterized by an imbalanced immune reaction and chronic inflammation.

“These factors already indicated a possible mutual genetic basis underlying the two diseases. Now we know for sure that there is a strong genetic link, patients with periodontitis should try to reduce their risk factors and take preventative measures at an early stage,” Dr. Arne Schaefer of the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology at the University of Kiel in Germany was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Study presented on May 25, 2009 at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics