Researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain have found a relationship between chronic periodontitis and lacunar infarct, a type of cerebral small vessel disease that causes 25% of all ischaemic strokes. Both diseases are common among the elderly.
The researchers have hypothesized that periodontitis leads to systemic inflammation, affecting the health of the blood vessels. Or, they noted, chronic periodontitis and lacunar infarct may share common vascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. More research, they said, is needed to understand this link.
“We observed that people diagnosed with periodontal disease had about a 4-fold increased risk of developing lacunar stroke compared with those without periodontitis,” said Dr. Yago Leira of the School of Dentistry department of periodontology, faculty of medicine, at the University of Santiago de Compostela.
The age- and gender-matched case-control study comprised 62 subjects diagnosed with lacunar infarct who had attended the Stroke Unit of the University Clinical Hospital of Santiago de Compostela between January 2014 and January 2015, between the ages of 30 and 80 years, with at least 15 teeth (excluding third molars). It also involved 60 control cases.
Probing pocket depth, recession, clinical attachment level, full-mouth plaque score, and full-mouth gingival bleeding on probing scores all were assessed during a periodontal examination performed by a single calibrated dentist. The researchers also used a structured questionnaire to ascertain associated risk factors for periodontitis and lacunar stroke.
“If further prospective cohort studies confirm our findings, interventional studies should be performed to assess the potential benefit of periodontal therapy in patients with lacunar stroke and periodontitis,” said Leira, who also was the lead author of the study. “Periodontal treatment may also decrease systemic inflammation and, therefore, it may reduce the risk of developing lacunar infarct.”
The research, “Chronic periodontitis is associated with lacunar infarct: a case-control study,” was published by the European Journal of Neurology.