Study: Regular scaling can reduce atrial fibrillation risk
April 9, 2013 -- Is there a relationship between periodontal health and cardiac dysrhythmia? Yes, according to a study in the International Journal of Cardiology (March 1, 2013).
In fact, the study authors propose a way to lower the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of sustained cardiac dysrhythmia: by undergoing dental scaling at least once a year.
"Oral infections due to poor oral hygiene may also predispose patients to new-onset AF by adding to the inflammatory burden of the individuals," the researchers from Taiwan wrote.
Atrial fibrillation affected approximately 2.7 million Americans in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). AF's disorganized cardiac electrical impulses and incomplete atrial emptying place patients at significantly increased risk for clots, strokes, and heart failure, the CDC noted.
For this study, the researchers used data from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) for the year 2000 to identify 28,909 subjects age 60 or older who had no history of cardiac dysrhythmias. The NHIRD is a cohort database of medical claims data for 1 million Taiwanese citizens that is representative of the 26 million citizens enrolled in Taiwan's mandatory National Health Insurance (NHI) universal coverage program, according to the study authors. Although each individual's identity is encrypted to protect confidentiality, the code remains consistent throughout the dataset, which allowed the study authors to follow insurance claims by the same subject."The present study suggests that the risk of AF can be reduced through dental scaling," the study authors concluded. "Given the high prevalence of periodontal diseases in the population, improvement of oral hygiene through dental scaling may be a simple and effective way to decrease the inflammatory burden and prevent AF."
"Poor oral hygiene is the major cause of periodontal disease, which has been found to be a potential risk factor for coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and peripheral vascular disease," the current study authors wrote. "Systemic inflammation could represent the underlying mechanism that links oral health and cardiovascular disease."