Deep periodontal pockets increase the risk for ECG abnormalities

June 22, 2004
Study found people with deep periodontal pockets with a mean value greater than two millimeters had an increased risk for ECG abnormalities.

People with deep periodontal pockets had an increased risk for electrocardiographic abnormalities (ECG) according to a recent study printed in this month's issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

Japanese researchers examined general and oral health of 1,111 people and included 957 people who had greater or equal to 10 teeth and did not have a medical history of cardiovascular disease were included. 

"We found that people with deep periodontal pockets with a mean value greater than two millimeters had an increased risk for ECG abnormalities compared with people who had pockets with a mean value less than two millimeters. And, people with severe attachment loss with a mean value greater than 2.5 millimeters had a significant risk for ECG abnormalities." said Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki, Department of Preventive Dentistry, Kyushu University Faculty of Dental Science, Japan. "Considering these results, the relationship between periodontitis and ECG abnormalities observed in this study suggests a relationship between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease."

Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory bacterial infection. Past studies report that periodontitis results in higher systemic levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 and neutrophils suggesting that elevated levels of these inflammatory substances cause inflammatory changes to atherosclerotic lesions, which increases the risk of cardiac events.

"This study adds to the growing body of evidence that links periodontitis to cardiovascular disease," said Michael P. Rethman, D.D.S., M.S., and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "In order to examine the degree of cardiovascular risk from periodontitis compared with other risk factors, cohort studies are required. For example, because problematical ECG results are a widely appreciated risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it could be clinically valuable to know the effects of periodontal treatment on ECG exams."

As ECG examinations cause no discomfort and take only a few minutes, it is widely used to screen for heart disease in health examinations. ECG abnormalities are significantly related to subsequent death from coronary heart disease and one of the most sensitive predictors of fatal coronary heart disease.