Heart attack: The major warning sign of the deadly condition found in your mouth
The most common cause of a heart attack is having a coronary artery disease. As we get older, the body deposits cholesterol fatty plaques onto the walls of the arteries. How much gets deposits is directly related to people’s lifestyle. When the cholesterol plaque on the arteries’ walls becomes unstable or fragile, it breaks up and forms a clot, obstruction the arteries. Arteries don’t need to be fully blocked for symptoms of a heart attack are triggered. Early symptoms could include chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath. Having this in your mouth could also be an early warning sign.
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For decades, researchers have probed the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health.
Gum disease begins when the sticky, bacteria-laden film dentists refer to as plaque builds up around the teeth.
A completely different type of plaque which is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in blood can build up inside arteries.
Known as atherosclerosis, this fatty plaque is the hallmark and breeding ground for heart disease and heart attacks.
Leading health experts warn that those with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular even.
Dr Hatice Hasturk of the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute, a research organisation focussed on oral health said: “Periodontal disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation.
“Acute inflammation, which involves an outpouring of immune cells that attack irritants and microbial invaders, fosters healing over the short term.
“But long-term inflammation is a key contributor to many health problems.”
How to prevent gum disease?
The British Heart Foundation said: “Brush your teeth, particularly after meals so you can more easily remove food debris and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums.
“Also brush your tongue; this will help get rid of bacteria too. Change your toothbrush around every three months.
“Look out for the bristles starting to bend, as this is a good sign you need a new one. Stand your toothbrush upright and let it air-dry between each use, as this can help reduce the bacteria.
“It doesn’t matter whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush. They’re both equally good, as long as you thoroughly brush all the surfaces of all your teeth for at least two minutes a day and use fluoride toothpaste.
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“Floss at least once a day, using a different part of the floss for each tooth.
“Floss with ten strokes up and down on each tooth. This helps remove food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gum line, which your toothbrush can’t reach.
“Mouthwash can help reduce plaque and can remove any remaining food particles that brushing and flossing missed.
“Attend regular dental check-ups and speak to a dental hygienist who could help clean and remove any hardened plaque.”
To date, there’s no proof that treating gum disease will prevent cardiovascular disease or its complications.
However, the connection is compelling enough that dentists and many doctors say it’s yet another reason to be vigilant about preventing gum disease in the first place.
To know if you have gum disease, the surest sign is inflammation.
Gingivitis can cause red, painful and tender gums.
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