Periodontitis treatment significantly lowered blood pressure among Chinese patients at risk for developing high blood pressure, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017 in Anaheim this week. The small study compared blood pressure levels after standard and intensive treatment for gum disease.
The standard treatment included basic oral hygiene instructions and teeth cleaning with plaque removal above the gum line. The intensive treatment included the standard treatment along with cleaning down to the roots with local anesthesia, antibiotic treatment, and dental extractions, if necessary. The researchers found that:
- One month after treatment, systolic blood pressure was nearly three points lower in participants receiving intensive treatment, but no significant difference was observed in diastolic blood pressure.
- Three months after treatment, systolic blood pressure was nearly eight points lower and diastolic pressure was nearly four points lower in patients receiving intensive treatment.
- Six months after treatment, systolic blood pressure was nearly 13 points and diastolic blood pressure was almost 10 points lower in patients receiving intensive treatment.
“The present study demonstrates for the first time that intensive periodontal intervention alone can reduce blood pressure levels, inhibit inflammation, and improve endothelial function,” said lead author Jun Tao, MD, PhD, chief of the Department of Hypertension and Vascular Disease and director of the Institute of Geriatrics Research at the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.
Study participants included 107 Chinese men and women aged 18 years and older with prehypertension and moderate to severe gum disease. Through random assignment, half of the participants received standard treatment and half received intensive treatment for gum disease. The researchers noted that additional research with patients from diverse backgrounds is needed.
High blood pressure affected 29.1% of adults aged 18 years and older in the United States in 2011 and 2012, according to the American Heart Association. Most people can manage the disease through diet and lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, limiting alcohol consumption, and taking prescribed medications properly.
“There are several very important takeaway messages. The first is something as basic as periodontal care may be able to reduce the risk of future high blood pressure and cardiovascular events,” said American Heart Association spokesperson Richard C. Becker, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Cardiovascular Health and Diseases and the University of Cincinnati Heart, Lung & Vascular Institute in Cincinnati.
“And that would be in addition to other recommendations made by the American Heart Association over the years,” Becker said. “And that includes appropriate level of exercise, on a daily and a weekly basis, reducing salts, fat, and sweetened beverage consumption, and maintaining an ideal body weight. So a combination of things that are readily available to people could, in fact, have a major impact on health both in the United States and throughout the world.”