Tooth loss increases risk of death in heart disease patients

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Mortality risk is twice as high in patients with coronary heart disease who no longer have teeth.

Additional tooth loss in patients with coronary heart disease can significantly increase their risk of death. This is the result of an international study published in the “European Journal of Preventive Cardiology”. Patients with no teeth had almost double the risk of mortality compared with those who still have all of their teeth.

The team, led by the University of Uppsala (Sweden), evaluated data of 15,456 patients from 39 countries on five continents. All participants suffered from coronary heart disease. At the beginning of the study they were asked to complete a questionnaire about their lifestyle, psychosocial factors and the number of teeth they had (in five categories: 26 – 31, 20 -25, 15 – 19, 1-14, no teeth). The average follow-up was 3.7 years.

During this time, there were 1,543 cardiovascular events, 705 cardiovascular deaths, 1,120 deaths from any cause and 301 strokes. After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors and socioeconomic data, it showed that for every increase in the category of tooth-loss, the risk of major cardiovascular events increased by six per cent, the risk of cardiovascular death increased by 17 per cent, the overall risk of death increased by 16 per cent and the likelihood of experiencing a stroke increased by 14 per cent.

Compared with people with all teeth, those with no teeth had a 27 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular events, 85 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular death, 81 per cent increased likelihood of all cause mortality and a 67 per cent higher risk of stroke.

All associations were stable and independent of other factors, such as diabetes or smoking. Only in myocardial infarction no significant association was found. In general, however, the risk-increase was gradual: the fewer teeth, the higher the risk. “Many patients in the study had lost teeth, so we are not talking about a few individuals here”, stressed study author Ola Vedin. “Around 16 per cent of patients had no teeth and roughly 40 per cent were missing half of their teeth.”

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