Tooth Loss in Postmenopausal Women Linked to Hypertension

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New research has revealed that postmenopausal women who have experienced tooth loss are more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension by their physician in the future. The study, “Association of Periodontal Disease and Edentulism with Hypertension Risk in Postmenopausal Women,” was reported in the January 2019 edition of the American Journal of Hypertension.

About Hypertension

The heart circulates blood throughout the body by traveling through its veins and arteries with every heartbeat. Medical professionals can measure someone’s blood pressure, or the force of the blood rushing through their blood vessels, by recording their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. The former reveals how much pressure the blood has to exert to travel within the arteries, while the latter shows the force that is created when the heart rests between beats.

According to the American Heart Association, hypertension occurs when the patient’s blood pressure is too high. High blood pressure can occur when the arteries become narrow or constricted due to plaque, and the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood.

Patients who are diagnosed with hypertension may eventually experience vision loss, heart attack, or a stroke. It can also lead to serious health issues like kidney disease and sexual dysfunction when left untreated.

Hypertension Risk Factors and Treatment

Common risk factors for hypertension include lifestyle habits like drinking large amounts of alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Chronic illnesses like diabetes, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, and kidney disease can also increase a person’s chances of developing hypertension. Age is another risk factor since patients over the age of 64 are more vulnerable to being diagnosed with high blood pressure. Additional risk factors include obesity and a family history of heart disease.

Doctors recommend that patients who are 20 years old and older get their blood pressure checked twice a year during their medical exams. To treat high blood pressure, medical professionals usually recommend that patients improve their diet and get more exercise. They may also prescribe medication.

Information about the Study

A team of investigators led by Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende recently discovered a possible association between tooth loss and periodontal disease among postmenopausal women. The professor works in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health in the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo.

For their study, the researchers examined the health assessments of 36,692 postmenopausal participants in the Women’s Health Initiative-Observational Study. The study documented the patient’s annual periodontal records from 1998 to 2015. Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende and her team compared their dental records to the rate of patients who were diagnosed with hypertension.

The scientists observed a positive association between tooth loss and hypertension risk among participants who were postmenopausal. According to their calculations, the risk factor for developing hypertension was 20% higher when compared to women who were not menopausal. Although tooth loss was a factor, they did not see an association between periodontal disease and hypertension. Overall, Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende believes that postmenopausal women should make more of an effort to improve their oral hygiene since they are at higher risk of developing hypertension.

Now they plan to conduct future research to discover why tooth loss is a factor in the development of high blood pressure. By studying its underlying mechanisms, Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende hopes it will help them solve more unanswered questions about how the two are linked.