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Cholesterol Drugs May Improve Gum Health

Update Date: Oct 05, 2013 11:29 AM EDT

The statin medications which are good for heart, can be good for your gums as well, a new study finds. They help reduce inflammations of the gums.

When people with gum disease took higher doses of the cholesterol-lowering drugs, their gum inflammation decreased. With the help of advanced imaging techniques, researchers were able to draw this conclusion.

In the three months study, researchers also looked for evidence of inflammation or hardening of the blood vessels. They found that reduced gum inflammation was clearly correlated with improved blood vessel health.

"There is a building, growing body of literature that draws a line between gum disease and atherosclerotic disease. In our study, benefits in the gums correlated with benefits in the arteries," said the study's senior author, Dr. Ahmed Tawakol, co-director of the Cardiac Imaging Trials Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston in a press release. "People with [gum disease] and atherosclerotic disease should likely be that much more vigilant in treating their gum disease.

Presently, statins are recommended to lower high levels or "bad" cholesterol. These "bad" cholesterol are also known as LDL cholesterol.

"There are three big categories of how statins likely exert their effects: lowering LDL, reducing inflammation, and by modulating plaque," said editorial author Dr. Michael Blaha, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease in Baltimore in a press release.

"It was really those on the higher-dose statins that had the benefit," noted Tawakol. But, "I would not recommend the use of statins outside the current guidelines," he added. "We see this trial more as a proof-of-principle trial. Our findings need to be confirmed in a larger clinical trial."

The study has been published online on Oct. 2 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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