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Heart Attack Risk and Periodontal Disease Share Identical Gene

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Heart attack research findings presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics May 24 2009 suggest a genetic link between periodontal disease and the development of heart disease leading to heart attack. According to the findings, risk of heart attack and development of periodontal disease share an identical gene.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Arne Schaefer, of the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology, University of Kiel, Germany has found a genetic chromosomal variant that is shared in people with periodontal disease with increased risk of heart attack.

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Dr. Schaefer says the gene, found in chromosome 9, is identical for both periodontal and heart disease. "We found that the genetic risk variant is located in a genetic region that codes for an antisense DNA called ANRIL. We studied a genetic locus on chromosome 9p21.3 that had previously been identified to be associated with myocardial infarction, in a group of 151 patients suffering from the most aggressive, early-onset forms of periodontitis, and a group of 1097 CHD patients who had already had a heart attack. The genetic variation associated with the clinical pictures of both diseases was identical."

The study shows a correlation between periodontal disease and risk of heart attack that could help with early interventions to curb inflammation and prevent heart attack. Understanding that heart attack and periodontal disease are genetically linked provides clues that periodontal disease should be aggressively treated.

Previous research has shown that periodontal and heart disease are linked. The new study shows that the risk of developing heart attack and development of periodontal disease share the exact same gene that promotes chronic inflammation and increased risk of heart disease and heart attack.

European Society of Human Genetics - ESHG