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Middle-aged tooth loss may signal heart disease risk

Tuesday 27th March 2018
People who lose two or more teeth in middle age may be more likely to receive a heart disease diagnosis, new research reveals. Image: karelnoppe via iStock
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Adults who suffer from tooth loss in middle age that isn't clearly linked to their diet or lifestyle may be at increased risk of heart disease, according to a new study.

A paper from scientists at Tulane University in New Orleans and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention: Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018 conference claiming to have found a clear link between these two factors.

Over an eight-year period, the researchers compared data on the health of people aged between 45 and 69 with no tooth loss to individuals of the same age who were missing several teeth.

It was found that people who had between 25 and 32 teeth at the start of the study and lost two or more during its course were 23 per cent more likely to receive a cardiovascular disease diagnosis. This was even the case when their lifestyle appeared healthy and they did not suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, all of which are known risk factors for heart disease.

Among participants who had 17 or fewer teeth at the study's outset, the risk of cardiovascular problems increased by 25 per cent.

Losing just one tooth did not seem to have an adverse impact on cardiovascular health, but there was a notable link between heart disease risk and losing several teeth in middle age.

Lead author of the study Lu Qi commented: "Our findings suggest that middle-aged adults who have lost two or more teeth in the recent past could be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

"That's regardless of the number of natural teeth a person has as a middle-aged adult or whether they have traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as poor diet or high blood pressure."

The researchers hope that their findings will encourage individuals who unexpectedly lose teeth in middle age to make changes to their lifestyle with the aim of reducing their heart disease risk, as tooth loss could be a sign that their health is declining.

Written by Mathew Horton

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