Research Finds Potential Association Between Oral Bacteria and High Blood Pressure

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Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has identified an association between certain oral bacteria and the development of hypertension among postmenopausal women. The potential association may offer new insights into the prevention of this disease in older adults.1

Researchers from the University at Buffalo-State University of New York conducted a comprehensive study involving 1,215 postmenopausal women over an extended period. The study examined blood pressure levels and collected oral biofilm samples to investigate the relationship between oral bacteria and hypertension in older women.1

The Study

Between 1997 and 2001, initial assessments were conducted on 1,215 women with an average age of 63. During that time, subgingival biofilm samples were collected, blood pressure (BP) readings were taken, and comprehensive medical, lifestyle, and medication histories were documented.1

The microbial composition of the subgingival biofilm was analyzed through 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing. At baseline, blood pressure status was categorized as normotensive (systolic BP <120 mm Hg and diastolic BP <80 mm Hg without the use of BP medications), elevated (systolic BP ≥120 mm Hg or diastolic BP ≥80 mm Hg without medication use), or as having prevalent treated hypertension (a history of hypertension diagnosed by a physician and treated with medications).1

New cases of hypertension (375 instances among 735 participants without treated hypertension at baseline) were identified as hypertension newly diagnosed by a physician and treated with medication, as reported in annual health surveys over an average follow-up period of 10.4 years. In a cross-sectional analysis, 47 bacterial species (out of a total of 245) showed significant differences in prevalence based on the baseline BP status of participants.1


In the prospective analysis, the authors identified 10 bacterial species associated with an elevated risk of incident hypertension, while five were linked to a reduced risk. Thirteen of these associations remained significant even after adjusting for multiple variables. Similar associations were consistently noted when focusing on normotensive individuals, not on BP medication at baseline.1

The key findings of the study included:1,2

  1. Ten specific bacteria strains were associated with a 10% to 16% higher risk of developing high blood pressure: Streptococcus anginosus, Streptococcus salivarius, Fretibacterium sp. oral taxon 362Selenomonas infelixPrevotella sp. oral taxon 526Prevotella sp. oral taxon 292Megasphaera sp. oral taxon 123Capnocytophaga sp. oral taxon 903Prevotella sp. oral taxon 376, and Streptococcus lactarius.
  2. Five other bacterial types were linked to a 9% to 18% lower risk of hypertension: Neisseria subflava, Bergeyella sp. oral taxon 907, Gemella morbillorumLeptotrichia sp. oral taxon 212, and Aggregatibacter segnis.

These associations remained consistent even after accounting for various factors like age, cholesterol treatment, diet, and smoking, which can also influence high blood pressure development.1

Notably, this discovery holds particular relevance for postmenopausal women, given that they face a higher risk of high blood pressure compared to older men.1


High blood pressure is a significant health concern, with more than 70% of American adults aged 65 and older affected. As the older population continues to grow, preventing hypertension becomes a critical public health goal. Identifying novel approaches to address this condition is essential, as high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.1

While this study provides valuable insights, it’s important to note that it is observational, meaning it can’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship between specific bacteria and hypertension. Confirming the causal agents would require randomized trials. Nevertheless, this research opens the door to a new realm of understanding, potentially paving the way for innovative approaches to hypertension prevention.1

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  1. LaMonte, M.J., Gordon, J.H., Diaz-Moreno, P., et al. Oral Microbiome Is Associated With Incident Hypertension Among Postmenopausal Women. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2022; 11(6): e021930.
  2. American Heart Association. (2022, March 2). Some Oral Bacteria Linked With Hypertension in Older Women. ScienceDaily.