Genetic link between gum disease and heart attacks discovered

Scientists have discovered a genetic link between the dental disease periodontitis and heart attacks.

The link has been found to occur on chromosome 9, where a specific version of a gene appears to be present in both periodontitis and coronary heart disease.

This discovery confirms what scientists have known for a long time – that there is a clear link between poor dental health and heart disease.

Dr Arne Schaefer, from the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology at the University of Kiel, Germany, presented his team’s findings at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics. He said: ‘We studied a genetic locus on chromosome 9p21.3 that had previously been identified to be associated with myocardial infarction (heart attack) in a group of 151 patients suffering from the most aggressive, early-onset forms of periodontitis, and a group of 1,097 CHD patients who had already had a heart attack.

‘The genetic variation associated with the clinical pictures of both diseases was identical.’

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