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Severe Gum Disease Triples Heart Disease Risk

RICHMOND, Virginia - Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University have found that increased levels of plasma lipoprotein in patients with advanced periodontitis may be responsible for increasing the risk of heart disease in these patients. //

Periodontitis is the inflammation of the supporting tissue that surrounds the teeth. Previous studies have already linked its presence with a host of diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The current study suggests that checking on the plasma lipoprotein profile in patients with severe periodontitis might be life-saving as appropriate therapy can be instituted. Lead author Rik van Antwerpen, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biochemistry at VCU said that the study was a pointer towards the risk of these patients to develop heart disease in the future, “Previous research has shown that people who have predominantly small-dense LDL in their blood are at a three- to six-fold increased risk of heart disease and stroke. A person may have predominantly small-dense LDL without having alarmingly high blood levels of cholesterol. Therefore, unhealthy levels of small-dense LDL are not always detected in regular cholesterol tests” The current study was conducted on a small scale and involved 12 patients with advanced periodontal disease and 12 without any disease, who acted as controls.

Another factor that could link up to heart disease is the presence of platelet activating factor acetylhydrolase (PAF-AH), which is an enzyme that is associated with small-dense LDL. This enzyme could be responsible for lowering the atherogenic effects of LDL. In severe periodontitis this association between LDL-associated PAF-AH activity is lowered and thus may speed up cardiovascular disease. The study appears in the December issue of the Journal of Lipid Research and was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

CONTACT: Sathya Achia-Abraham University News Services Phone: (804) 827-0890 Email:

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