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Periodontal Diseases May Increase Risk of Death in Postmenopausal Women


Periodontal diseases may raise the risk of death in postmenopausal women, but it does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Led by Michael J. LaMonte, PhD, MPH, a research associate professor in epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo in New York, researchers analyzed information from 57,001 subjects from the Women’s Health Initiative Program. All subjects were between ages 55 to 89. In a 6.7-year follow-up, the team found that periodontal diseases were associated with a 12% higher risk of death from any cause, and loss of all teeth was associated with a 17% increased risk of death from any cause.

The study reported that at year 5 there were 3589 cardiovascular disease events and 3816 deaths. It also notes the edentulous subjects tended to be older, had more cardiovascular disease risk factors, and visited the dentist less frequently than other women in the study. “Our findings suggest that older women may be at higher risk for death because of their periodontal condition and may benefit from more intensive oral screening measures,” LaMonte observes. “However, studies of interventions aimed at improving periodontal health are needed to determine whether risk of death is reduced among those receiving the intervention, compared to those who do not. Our study was not able to establish a direct cause and effect.”

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