People with high blood pressure taking medication for their condition are more likely to benefit from the therapy if they have good oral health, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.
Researchers from the University of L’Aquila in Italy recently conducted a study to determine the link between gum health and blood pressure levels.
For the study, researchers examined the medical and dental exam records of more than 3,600 people with high blood pressure. They assessed those with periodontal disease, a gum infection that can be caused by lack of thorough brushing and flossing, and those with good oral health.
The findings reveal that those with healthier gums have lower blood pressure and responded better to blood pressure-lowering medications, compared with individuals who have gum disease, a condition known as periodontitis. People with periodontal disease were 20 percent less likely to reach healthy blood pressure ranges, compared with patients in good oral health.
The researchers, considering the findings, say patients with periodontal disease may warrant closer blood pressure monitoring, while those diagnosed with hypertension, or persistently elevated blood pressure, might benefit from a referral to a dentist.
“Physicians should pay close attention to patients’ oral health, particularly those receiving treatment for hypertension, and urge those with signs of periodontal disease to seek dental care,” said study lead investigator Davide Pietropaoli, DDS, PhD, of the University of L’Aquila.
“Likewise, dental health professionals should be aware that oral health is indispensable to overall physiological health, including cardiovascular status,” Pietropaoli said.