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Like a well-oiled machine, your heart is meant to keep ticking away with every beat the same, keeping blood, and the vital oxygen it carries, moving throughout your body.
However, there’s one extremely common heart problem that can throw all of that into disarray.
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a type of arrhythmia — or abnormal, often rapid heartbeat — that is expected to affect over 12 million Americans by 2030. It’s a condition that not only increases the risk of stroke but can also cause memory problems before that ever happens.
Luckily, avoiding certain factors that lead to AFib can cut your risks by half.
This means doing things like losing any excess weight, giving up smoking and managing high blood pressure and diabetes.
And according to researchers at Hiroshima University, it also means keeping your gums healthy…
Gum disease and scarring of the heart
That’s because according to the researchers, periodontitis, a disease of the gums that can lead to bleeding and bad breath, can also leave your heart scarred and struggling to maintain a healthy rhythm.
So what made the scientists take the unlikely step of looking in the mouth for the cause of a heart problem?
“Periodontitis is associated with a long-standing inflammation, and inflammation plays a key role in atrial fibrosis progression and atrial fibrillation pathogenesis,” said study author Shunsuke Miyauchi. “We hypothesized that periodontitis exacerbates atrial fibrosis.
So, the researchers set out to prove that theory.
The team analyzed the heart muscle of 76 patients with AFib, comparing it to the amount of gum disease they suffered.
And the results clearly showed that the worse the level of periodontitis a person lived with, the worse the fibrosis, or scarring, in the left upper chamber of their heart — a condition that is known to lead to AFib.
“This study provides basic evidence that periodontitis can aggravate atrial fibrosis and can be a novel modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation,” said corresponding author Yukiko Nakano.
In other words, if you modify the amount of gum disease you have for the better through good oral hygiene and regular dental visits, you also modify your AFib risk for the better.
The common denominator
Inflammation is known as the unifying theory of disease — and the connection between heart and dental health is a perfect example of this.
That’s why in addition to upping your dental hygiene game to be safe, tamping down inflammation is also something to consider, for more reasons than one…
A study conducted at the Forsyth Institute, an affiliate of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, found that fish oil helps resolve inflammation in people with periodontitis and is helpful in the treatment of gum disease.
Here are a few more tips that can reduce your AFib risks:
- Snacking on nuts – Eating nuts three times a week or more can lower your risk of AFib by 19 percent.
- Keep moving – Daily walking has been shown to reduce chances of developing the heart rhythm issue by 10 percent.
- Reduce alcohol consumption – Even moderate drinking is associated with the heart fibrosis and impairment in electrical signaling that cause AFib.
And if you’re already living with AFib, consider trying yoga, which could help you to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and improve your quality of life.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
Atrial fibrillation – CDC