Poor Oral Health Associated with Worse Blood Pressure Control

Periodontitis may interfere with hypertension treatment, according to a new study. 

Researchers retrospectively analyzed cross-sectional, nationally representative data on more than 3,600 adults (age ≥ 30 years) with high blood pressure with and without periodontitis. They assessed blood pressure continuously (mm Hg) and categorically (treatment goal achievement status according to guidelines: at goal and above goal). 

Patients who were being treated for hypertension and had periodontitis had mean systolic blood pressure about 2.3 to 3 mm Hg higher than those without gum disease (< 0.0001). In multiple adjusted analyses, researchers observed an association between periodontitis and unsuccessful hypertension treatment; odds increased with disease severity. In patients with untreated hypertension, mean systolic blood pressure increased by about 7 mm Hg. 

Hypertension affects about 75 million American adults, about 1 in every 3, and 54% of people with elevated blood pressure have their condition controlled. An estimated 1 in every 3 adults has prehypertension. 

“Physicians should pay close attention to patients’ oral health, particularly those receiving treatment for hypertension, and urge those with signs of periodontal disease to seek dental care,” said lead study author Davide Pietropaoli, D.D.S., Ph.D., of the University of L’Aquila in Italy. “Likewise, dental health professionals should be aware that oral health is indispensable to overall physiological health, including cardiovascular status.” 

The researchers called for continued research on periodontitis treatment’s effects on blood pressure as well as long-term cardiovascular outcomes. 

“Patients with high blood pressure and the clinicians who care for them should be aware that good oral health may be just as important in controlling the condition as are several lifestyle interventions known to help control blood pressure, such as a low-salt diet, regular exercise and weight control,” Pietropaoli said. 

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SourcesAmerican Heart AssociationHypertension, CDC