Every year, heart disease takes the lives of one in four individuals, making it the primary cause of death in the United States according to the CDC. While researchers continue to focus on the impact of high blood pressure and high cholesterol in heart attacks and strokes, they are now paying close attention to another contributing factor: inflammation. But what exactly is inflammation? How does it relate to heart disease, and how can we prevent or treat it?
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury and infections, such as cuts and sore throats. It is your body’s way of reacting to an irritant and stimulates the healing process. Typically, inflammation helps our bodies fight off bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances. However, if this immune system response persists even after the threat has subsided, the immune system can start attacking healthy tissues. This relentless and harmful form of inflammation has caught the interest of scientists and the general public. New research shows the negative effects of chronic inflammation. It disrupts cholesterol deposits in our arteries, elevating our risk of heart attacks. It damages healthy nerve cells in the brain, leading to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. It may even promote the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. Surprisingly, inflammation could be the driving force behind several dreaded diseases, including severe cases of COVID-19.
Within our hearts, we have blood vessels where plaque can accumulate over time. This plaque can become inflamed. Inflammation renders the plaque unstable and prone to rupturing, which can result in sudden cardiac death and heart attacks. Anything that triggers inflammation can increase the likelihood of plaque disruption.
Did you know that places in the world that have high levels of air pollution and respiratory illnesses experience a higher rate of cardiovascular mortality? Inflammation can be blamed.
Did you know that following a flu epidemic, there is a surge in heart attack cases? Severe viral infections heighten inflammation and contribute to plaque rupture.
How Do Bleeding Gums Affect My Heart Health?
The health of one’s mouth can serve as an indicator of heart health. Any inflammation in the body raises the risk of heart attacks, and a significant source of inflammation hides between the teeth and under the gums. Forty-seven percent of adults over the age of 30 have gum disease, a number that rises to 70% for individuals aged 65 and older.
Fresh breath is no longer our primary concern; preventing heart attacks is the goal. Les Belles provides advanced salivary testing to assess inflammation biomarkers in the mouth that could indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular events. If there is inflammation in the gums, there is an overpopulation of harmful bacteria called gum disease. Gum disease can be treated by rebalancing the harmful bacteria in the oral microbiome and disinfecting the mouth. This promotes healing and reduces inflammation throughout the body. Remember, the mouth serves as the gateway to the body, and preventive measures are crucial for a longer life. Make sure to visit your dentist 2-4 times a year to keep inflammation in check.