High blood pressure risk greater in older women with missing teeth

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high blood pressure and tooth loss

A new US study indicates that postmenopausal women who have experienced tooth loss are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure. 

Study participants were 36,692 postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative-Observational Study, in the US, who were followed annually from initial periodontal assessment in 1998 through 2015 for newly diagnosed hypertension.

The study—published in the American Journal of Hypertension—observed a positive association between tooth loss and hypertension risk among postmenopausal women. Specifically, these women had approximately 20 per cent higher risk of developing hypertension during follow-up compared to other women. The association was stronger among younger women and those with lower BMI.

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There are several possible reasons for the observed association. One possible explanation is that as people lose teeth, they may change their diets to softer and more processed foods. These changes in dietary patterns could be associated with higher risk of hypertension. There was no association found between periodontal disease and hypertension.

The study suggests that older postmenopausal women who are losing their teeth may represent a group with higher risk for developing hypertension. As such, the researchers involved in the study believe that improved dental hygiene among those at risk for tooth loss as well as preventive measures such as closer blood pressure monitoring, dietary modification, physical activity, and weight loss may reduce the risk of hypertension. 

The findings also suggest that tooth loss may serve as a clinical warning sign for increased hypertension risk.

“These findings suggest tooth loss may be an important factor in the development of hypertension,” senior author Jean Wactawski-Wende said.

“Further research may help us to determine the underlying mechanisms by which these two common diseases are associated.”

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