This Morning: Dr Chris warns bad breath can indicate diseases
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The research team, based at the Global Health Institute in Switzerland, identified a common bacterium that is linked to the development of disease. The oral bacterium, Fusobacterium nucleatum, causes gum disease and bad breath. Now scientists think this same bacterium could be a potential risk factor for coronary heart disease.
“Although enormous progress has been made in understanding how coronary heart disease develops,” said lead author Flavia Hodel.
“We wanted to help fill some of the gaps in our understanding of coronary heart disease by taking a more comprehensive look at the role of infections.”
Hodel and his colleagues analysed genetic information, health data, and blood samples from 3,459 people.
Within the 12-year follow-up period, around six percent of participants experienced a heart attack or another harmful cardiovascular event.
The team tested participants’ blood samples for the presence of antibodies against 15 different viruses, six bacteria, and one parasite.
They found that antibodies against Fusobacterium nucleatum were linked to a slightly increased cardiovascular risk.
Hodel explained: “Fusobacterium nucleatum might contribute to cardiovascular risk through increased systemic inflammation.”
He said this is “due to bacterial presence in the mouth, or through direct colonisation of the arterial walls or plaque lining the arterial walls”.
Co-author Jacques Fellay, a professor at the School of Life Sciences, Switzerland, also commented on the research findings.
Fellay said: “Our results may lead to new ways of identifying high-risk individuals.
“Or lay the groundwork for studies of preventive interventions that treat Fusobacterium nucleatum infections to protect the heart.”
The presence of Fusobacterium nucleatum could be used as a screening tool to identify patients at risk of coronary artery disease.
This way, should people at risk be identified, they can take preventive measures to ward off disease.
Moreover, if the infection of Fusobacterium nucleatum is treated, it might help reduce heart disease risk.
These results may inform further research in the subject area.
Reducing cardiovascular disease risk
The NHS says there are “several ways” you can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Two of the most important factors are having healthy blood pressure and cholesterol.
An ideal blood pressure reading should be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
By exercising for at least 30 minutes daily, in addition to a healthy diet, your blood pressure can be brought down to healthier levels.
As for cholesterol, eating an unhealthy diet would contribute to too much of the fat circulating in the blood.
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