Patients with gum disease should be told that they have a higher risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases - including myocardial infarction and stroke - and that they should actively manage risk factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, excess weight, blood pressure, and a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars.
Patients who suffer from both periodontitis and cardiovascular disease may have a higher risk of cardiovascular complications and should carefully follow recommended dental regimes of prevention, treatment, and maintenance.
These are among the key messages of the Perio & Cardio educational campaign launched today by the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) and the World Heart Federation (WHF).
This global initiative is centred on the perioandcardio.efp.org site, which contains recommendation documents, infographics, an animated film, and other educational materials - all aimed at bringing this knowledge to the dental team, cardiologists, medical professionals, pharmacists, and the public.
Perio & Cardio is based on a new evidence-based scientific consensus on the links between periodontal and cardiovascular diseases and expert recommendations on prevention and therapy for both types of disease.
All the material in the campaign derives from the consensus report 'Periodontitis and cardiovascular disease' - published in February by the EFP's Journal of Clinical Periodontology - which expressed the findings of the Perio-Cardio Workshop, held in Madrid in 2019, which brought together 20 world-leading experts in the fields of periodontology and cardiology.
"Perio & Cardio is particularly important because it outlines the robust links between oral and systemic health, and also highlights that by safeguarding our gum health we are actively contributing to our heart and cardiovascular health."
Filippo Graziani, Former EFP President and Co-ordinator, Perio & Cardio Campaign
Both cardiovascular and gum diseases are widespread chronic, non-communicable diseases. Periodontitis, the most frequent gum disease, has an overall global prevalence of 45-50%, and its severe form affects 11.2% of the world's population, making it the sixth most common human condition.
Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 17.9 million deaths per year worldwide (one third of all deaths), including 3.9 million in Europe (45% of all deaths), with ischaemic heart disease, stroke, and hypertension leading to heart failure as the main causes. Although mortality rates are falling, the absolute numbers have increased over the last 25 years because of an ageing population.
"Perio & Cardio implies a mutual endorsement by two major global organisations, the EFP and WHF," Prof Graziani says. "We really appreciate that WHF did not only reach the scientific consensus with us but is also taking an active role in disseminating the project materials among the global community of cardiologists and cardio patients."
"I'm also deeply grateful to Prof Mariano Sanz, who organised the Perio-Cardio Workshop in Madrid, and to all members of the EFP's project committee, who worked hard in helping to process this scientific information into suitable material for our medical colleagues and the population."
Xavier Struillou, president of the EFP, adds: "Partnering with WHF for this joint project is a qualitative step forward for us, given WHF's leadership in heart and cardiovascular diseases and its worldwide reach. Perio & Cardio reinforces the leading role being played by the EFP in its pursuit of periodontal health for a better life everywhere."
"Most people are dangerously unaware of the increased risk of heart disease associated with poor periodontal health," explains Jean-Luc Eiselé, CEO, World Heart Federation.
"This project aims to raise awareness of this important link not just among the general public, but also among nurses, dentists, cardiologists and other medical professionals who play a key role in managing heart disease risk factors among their patients. We are proud to be joining forces with the European Federation of Periodontology to shine a light on this important issue."