Swiss researchers have found that the bacteria that cause gum disease and bad breath can increase the risk of heart disease.
Various studies show that heart disease, which accounts for about a third of deaths worldwide, is caused by genetic and environmental risk factors.
Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms may play an important role in heart disease.
According to a recent study published in the journal eLife, bad breath can be bad for your heart because Fusobacterium nucleatum, a common oral bacterium, can increase heart inflammation.
The study tracked the heart health of 3,459 people over 12 years. The researchers analyzed the participants’ genetic and health information, and tested blood samples for antibodies against 15 different viruses, 6 types of bacteria, and one parasite.
Former graduate student in the Faculty of Life Sciences Flavia Hodel from the Faculty of Life Sciences of the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) said that gum disease can “contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
The team found that those who had Fusobacterium nucleatum antibodies in their blood, indicating they had gum disease at some point in their lives, were more likely to have heart attacks and strokes.
Professor Jacques Vilae, of the School of Life Sciences, said the findings “add to growing evidence that infection-induced inflammation may contribute to coronary heart disease and increase the risk of a heart attack.”
The study advises doctors to test for other potential risk factors to identify those at risk for heart disease. The findings could mean that treating Fusobacterium nucleus may help reduce the risk of heart disease.