Diabetes is a health disorder in which the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood is extremely high. Over time, excessive blood sugar levels can damage the various organs in your body. A Swedish study finds that undetected diabetes is linked to both heart attack and gum disease. Researchers also emphasized the importance of regular dental check-ups and blood sugar readings to reduce the risk.
Link Between Healthcare and Dental Care
According to research published in the journal Diabetes Care at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, when problems with blood glucose go undetected in individuals, it’s raising their risk of both heart attack and gum disease.
One of the researchers, Dr. Anna Norhammar said that their study results indicate that dysglycemia is a significant risk factor in both severe periodontitis and myocardial infarction, and that the combination of severe periodontitis and undetected diabetes further enhances the risk of myocardial infarction.
The research, which was performed in a collaboration between cardiologists and dentists at Karolinska Institutet, was based on data from a past study called PAROKRANK (Periodontitis and Its Relation to Coronary Artery Disease). To understand how glucose disorder can impact a person’s dental and heart health, the researchers comprised of two distinct medical professional groups - dentists and cardiologists.
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The participants consisted of 805 patients with a known heart ailment and 805 patients without a heart ailment. The study participants' gum health was checked with x-rays, and their glucose levels were tested through a blood sugar test. Researchers split the participants into three groups - normal, reduced glucose tolerance, and newly detected diabetes, to best, assess how glucose levels impacted them. Comparisons were made after adjustments for age, sex, smoking habits, education, and civil status. The study disclosed that undetected diabetes was linked to both gum disease and an increased risk of a heart attack.
The study also observed that undetected diabetes was twice as likely in the participants who commenced the study with a known heart condition and they were also at a higher risk of developing gum disease as compared to those without heart problems at the onset of the study.
One of the limitations of the study is that despite the ample number of participants, the number of patients and controls with acute periodontitis and undetected diabetes was low. The marked differences in the association between undetected diabetes and severe periodontitis in patients and controls can, therefore, be attributed either to the small number of patients or to actual differences in correlation.
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Moving forward, the researchers believe that the findings would make diabetes experts consider their patients' dental health and the provision for closer collaboration with dentists. They also hope that dentists and cardiologists will work together frequently to help patients as early as possible.