Periodontitis may serve as a risk factor for atrial fibrosis, according to research recently highlighted by the University of Hiroshima in Japan. In a study of 76 patients with heart disease, a significant correlation was found tying periodontitis to fibrosis scarring that can lead to an irregular heartbeat.
The researchers, led by Dr. Shunsuke Myiauchi from the university, reported that several parameters established on oral examination have a positive and strong correlation with atrial fibrosis even after adjusting for other factors. The study was published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.
For the study, the team included 76 patients with atrial fibrosis who were scheduled to undergo left atrial appendage excision. Of these individuals, 55 had nonparoxsymal atrial fibrosis, 25 had mitral valve regurgitation, and 18 had left atrial appendage thrombus (JACC Clin Electrophysiol, October 31, 2022, Vol. 9:1, pp. 43-53).
All patients underwent an oral examination. The team used the remaining number of teeth, bleeding on probing, periodontal probing depth, and periodontal inflamed surface area as parameters.
Bleeding on probing, a periodontal probing depth of less than or equal to 4 mm, and a periodontal inflamed surface area all had positive, statistically significant correlations with atrial fibrosis.
Among patients with fewer than 10 remaining teeth, a periodontal inflamed surface area had a positive and strong correlation with atrial fibrosis (r = 0.57; p < 0.0001). This parameter also had significant ties to fibrosis even after adjusting for age, fibrosis duration, body mass index, mitral valve regurgitation, and CHADS₂ (congestive heart failure, hypertension, age, diabetes, previous stroke/transient ischemic attack) (p = 0.0002).
While the researchers acknowledged that more evidence is needed to establish a causal relationship and determine if periodontal care can reduce fibrosis, they highlighted that their results could impact global health. The team is hoping to conduct future clinical trials in this area.