Samples taken from blood clots in stroke victims find DNA from oral bacteria, proving that oral health affects cardiovascular health. Clot samples were taken from 75 patients who had suffered strokes at Tampere University in Finland who had undergone thrombectomies, an emergency surgery. The procedure involves removing blood clots through means of a catheter inserted through arteries. The results showed that 79% of those clots contained common oral bacteria. The level of oral bacteria was shown to be much higher in the blood clot than in other samples taken from the patients.
This study has been conducted over ten years at Tampere University and proves a connection between oral bacteria and cardiovascular health. The research shows that the blood clots that cause heart attacks, strokes and thrombosis in the legs do contain oral bacteria. Oral bacteria may also play a role in the increased risk of infective endocarditis, a heart infection.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted by a clot and starves the brain of essential oxygen, resulting in loss of function and tissue damage. Research shows that 1 in 6 people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. The leading cause of stroke is plaque formation in the walls of the arteries. “Plaque” deposits are typically made up of fat and cholesterol as well as cellular waste and other minerals. A stroke occurs when the plaque comes loose and travels in the bloodstream creating a blockage or when the plaque attracts a clot.
We know that oral bacteria are found in blood clots that cause strokes, but it isn’t clear whether the oral bacteria is directly involved or just a bystander. Some evidence has shown that oral bacteria can activate blood platelets related to plaque in arteries. We also know that oral bacteria can cause infection in the heart valve when it enters into circulation. Therefore, the best advice is to maintain good oral health by brushing and flossing daily and routine dental visits.
If you have any other questions about the effect of oral bacteria on strokes, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.