Genetic link found between periodontitis and heart attacks

Scientists have discovered a genetic relationship between periodontitis and coronary heart disease (CHD), according to research presented at the recent European Society of Human Genetics meeting in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Arne Schaefer, of the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology at the University of Kiel in Germany, said his team had discovered a genetic variant situated on chromosome 9 that is shared between the two diseases.

"We studied a genetic locus on chromosome 9p21.3 that had previously been identified to be associated with myocardial infarction, 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," he said in a press release. "The genetic variation associated with the clinical pictures of both diseases was identical."

The scientists went on to verify the association in further groups of 1,100 CHD patients and 180 periodontitis patients.

"We intend to push ahead with our work to try to understand more about the function of this RNA molecule and the pathway in which it operates in healthy gums and also in periodontitis," Dr. Schaefer said. "In the meantime, because of its association with CHD, we think that periodontitis should be taken very seriously by dentists, and diagnosed and treated as early as possible."

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