Periodontitis increases risk of stroke among young people

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Periodontitis increases risk of stroke among young people, study finds

Already linked to cognitive decline, periodontitis has now been connected to a risk of stroke among young people. (Image: Olga by Shefer/Shutterstock)

Thu. 23 May 2024


KUOPIO, Finland: Stroke is the second leading cause of death globally, and periodontitis has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke. Building on their research on links between poor periodontal health and various cognitive problems, reported on by Dental Tribune International, a team at the University of Eastern Finland have investigated the relationship between periodontitis and stroke among individuals under the age of 50 and confirmed the link in a case–control study.

The study examined 146 people aged between 18 and 49 who had suffered a cryptogenic ischemic stroke—one not explained by established risk factors—and 146 age- and sex-matched controls. Based on thorough radiographic and clinical examination, as well as patient variables, such as obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking status and education, and measures of bacteraemia, the study concluded that a clear correlation exists between individuals under the age of 50 with periodontitis and a heightened risk of cryptogenic ischemic stroke. Putting this in context, study co-author Dr Pirkko Pussinen, professor of translational dentistry at the university’s Institute of Dentistry, said on the university’s website: “People suffering from periodontitis have a two to 2.5 times higher risk of stroke while they’re still of working age.”

Additional findings made by the study include that stroke severity increased with the severity of periodontitis and that the onset of stroke was related to having recently undergone invasive dental treatments or having persisting dental infections requiring acute dental treatment. Prof. Pussinen expanded on this: “The risk of stroke also increased after invasive dental treatments, such as root canal treatment and tooth extraction, especially in individuals with patent foramen ovale, PFO, a hole in the septum of the heart.”

The study suggested that both PFO and oral bacteria entering the bloodstream as a result of periodontal disease may contribute to the formation of a blood clot, leading to stroke, but cautioned on the role played by bacteria. The researchers said: “We were able to obtain blood samples from patients only a few days after their stroke, at which point no biomarkers of bacteria could be found in their blood.”

The new study, titled “Periodontitis, dental procedures, and young-onset cryptogenic stroke”, was published in the May 2024 issue of Journal of Dental Research.

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