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Risk of atherosclerosis-related death recognisable from dental status

(Vienna, 2nd August 2011) People with poorly looked after teeth have an increased risk of vascular calcification progressing. However, whether this also has an impact on mortality, for example if atherosclerotic changes are confirmed in the carotid arteries, was previously unknown. This knowledge gap has now been closed by scientists at the Clinical Department of Angiology within the MedUni Vienna at the general hospital: Poor dentition also indicates an increased risk of mortality.

Matthias Hoke and the co-authors from the University Department of Internal Medicine II published their results on the 28th July 2011 in the Swiss journal "Swiss Medical Weekly". They used three different indices in patients that are used internationally to assess oral hygiene and dental status. This data was taken from 411 people with narrowing of the carotid arteries confirmed on ultrasound.

Oral hygiene in the context of the patients’ mortality risk
Thanks to the simplicity of carotid ultrasound investigations, the findings they reveal are regarded as a good indicator of the condition of an individual’s vascular system in general. The patients were observed for an average period of 6.2 years. Among these patients, 107 deaths were caused by cardiac infarctions, strokes, etc. The mortality was therefore 26 per cent, which is an extremely high figure. An analysis based on the dental status found during the examination showed a statistically significant relationship to the patient’s mortality risk both for the index for teeth affected by caries and missing teeth (DMFT) and for the Silness-Löe index as a measure of oral hygiene (plaque). The poorer the dental status and oral hygiene, the more likely the patient was to die. In extreme cases, this risk increased by a factor of three.

The authors: "The condition of teeth and oral hygiene were correlated with the mortality of patients with carotid atherosclerosis - and indeed independently of other cardiovascular risk factors." Hoke and other co-authors published a paper only a few days ago in the specialist journal “Stroke”, illustrating that increased levels of the sFAS protein in the blood of patients with atherosclerosis also indicate an increased risk of mortality.

Publication in Swiss Medical Weekly:
The impact of dental disease on mortality in patients with asymptomatic carotid atherosclerosis.
Matthias Hoke, Thomas Schillinger, Wolfgang Mlekusch, Oswald Wagner, Erich Minar, Martin Schillinger.