Bacteria in your spit might play a role in heart disease

AP

Print Article

Bacteria in the saliva of people with clogged arteries appears to be different from that of healthy people, according to a small study. The finding which could open the door for new strategies to fight heart disease.

The preliminary research, presented this week at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions, comes in the wake of past research showing oral bacteria is associated with atherosclerosis, fatty deposits that clog arteries and increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Other studies have shown bacteria in the intestines influences heart health. Researchers of the new study wanted to see if bacteria in the mouth also might play a role in cardiovascular health.

They took saliva samples from 39 older Japanese people with atherosclerosis and compared the results to a group without the condition. Researchers found bacteria present in the saliva of those with the disease differed significantly.

"The study demonstrates the importance of oral flora as well as intestinal flora," said the study's lead investigator, Dr. Masaaki Hoshiga, a professor of cardiology at Osaka Medical College in Japan. "It indicates the potential of salivary microbiota as a biomarker of atherosclerotic disease … and it sends a message to doctors regarding the importance of oral care."

Hoshiga said the study was limited by its small size, and it is unclear why salivary bacteria would differ in people with atherosclerosis. He called for future research that can clarify exactly how bacteria in the mouth impacts heart disease.

Cardiovascular researcher and molecular geneticist Hooman Allayee said this type of study has not been widely done before.

"It opens up a new area of research that could lead to something important," said Allayee, a professor of preventive medicine, and biochemistry and molecular medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study.

Even so, Allayee said, quantifying each type of bacteria, even with modern genetic techniques, is still "really difficult" – in part because people eat such different diets, which can affect bacteria.

"You really do need large sample sizes in order to rise above the noise," he said.

Still, he said, the study furthers the possibility that salivary bacteria might travel to the intestines and influence cardiovascular disease.

If these latest results are replicated elsewhere, it could lead to medications or lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, similar to how people with high cholesterol take medicine to lower their risk, Allayee said.

"Is there a way to kill off the bacteria that promotes heart disease? It's a novel concept."

The best-case future scenario, he said, would be to get rid of problematic salivary bacteria without a pill.

"If all of this is validated, imagine a treatment that wouldn't even have to go in your body, like a mouth rinse that kills off certain bacteria, and then you just spit out," he said. "That's a pie-in-the-sky ultimate treatment, but wouldn't it be awesome?"

Find more news from Scientific Sessions.

If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

American Heart Association News covers heart disease, stroke and related health issues. Not all views expressed in American Heart Association News stories reflect the official position of the American Heart Association.

Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to the American Heart Association News. See full terms of use.

HEALTH CARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediately.

Print Article

Read More Food and Health

‘Warm’ Hotlines Deliver Help Before Mental Health Crisis Heats Up

AP

December 09, 2019 at 5:00 am | A lonely and anxious Rebecca Massie first called the Mental Health Association of San Francisco “warmline” during the 2015 winter holidays. “It was a wonderful call,” said Massie, now 38 and a me...

Comments

Read More

Public Enemy's Keith Shocklee turns his heart attack into a call to action

AP

December 09, 2019 at 8:12 am | Don't take Keith Shocklee's word for it when he says he didn't look like someone about to have a heart attack. Check his photos from last year and you'll find a producer who looks lean, strong an...

Comments

Read More

It’s Not Just You: Picking Health Insurance Is Hard. Here’s How To Be Smart About It.

AP

December 09, 2019 at 5:00 am | Science has proved, no kidding around: Picking health insurance is extremely hard. [khn_slabs slabs="953976" view="pull-right" /] It’s open enrollment — time to pick next year’s insurance — for fol...

Comments

Read More

Getting There: ‘Clear gas’ a returning phenomenon, but most cars don’t need it

AP

December 08, 2019 at 5:00 pm | In a brick shed behind his house on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry Ford built his first car. The 32-year-old Ford produced only one Quadricycle Runabout in 1896, and he built it by hand from fou...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2019 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X