Sunday, November 1, 2009
If you are a cardiologist, a dentist, or even just any American over the age of 40, I recommend that you spend the fourteen minutes to hear the message above. Dr. Ridker, the director of the Center for Cardiolovascular Disease Prevention, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was the keynote speaker at the American Academy of Periodontology this year.
Dr. Ridker is proposing double blind studies to prove that inflammation from periodontal disease is related to death by cardiovascular disease. In a previous blog, I proposed that we stop discussing the possible relationship between gum disease and heart attacks and admit that the bacteria from the gum disease are causing heart attacks. Dr. Ridker is recognizing that inflammation is a more important indicator of cardiovascular risk than high cholesterol, and proposing studies to prove just that.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be part of the control group. The scientist in me wants the definitive proof, but the clinician in me already knows the likely outcome. We test the C reactive protein of our periodontal patients before we commence treatment. We see dramatic declines in the C reactive protein levels of the patients who get their periodontal disease under control. And as Dr. Ridker admits, your C reactive protein levels are a better indicator of heart attack risk than your cholesterol levels. Yet while most American adults know their blood cholesterol levels, almost none know their C reactive protein level.