Background: There is increasing evidence that chronic infections, such as periodontal diseases, could play a role in the initiation and development of coronary artery disease (CAD). The present study was intended to test for a possible association between presence and severity of periodontitis and coronary artery disease in a Belgian population.
Methods: A total of 108 CAD patients (mean age 59.2 +/- 11 years) and 62 presumably healthy controls (mean age 57.7 +/- 9 years) were enrolled in the study. Probing depth, periodontal pocket bleeding index (PPBI), plaque index, furcation involvements, and tooth mobility were evaluated to compare periodontal health in both groups. The subjects were also ranked according to a novel index of periodontitis severity, the periodontal index for risk of infectiousness (PIRI), aimed at quantifying the risk of release of proinflammatory mediators from the periodontal sites.
Results: Periodontitis was significantly more frequent in CAD patients than in controls (CAD patients: 91%; controls: 66%). The mean number of pockets was 18 +/- 17.1 in cardiac patients versus 7.6 +/- 12.7 in controls (P < 0.0001), despite the fact that the mean number of missing teeth was significantly greater in cases than in controls (14 +/- 7.1 versus 9 +/- 5.2; P < 0.0001). Furthermore, proportions of mobile teeth, bleeding sites, periodontal pockets, and involved furcations were significantly higher in CAD patients than in controls. In addition, the extent of the periodontal disease present was also greater in cases than in controls. A logistic model, adjusted for known cardiovascular risk factors, showed a strong association between CAD and periodontitis (odds ratio [OR] = 6.5). Moreover, there was a significant dose-response relationship between increasing scores of the periodontal risk of infectiousness and the presence of CAD (adjusted OR = 1.3 per PIRI unit).
Conclusion: In the present study, periodontitis was revealed to be a significant risk factor for CAD after adjusting for other confounding factors, with the level of association increasing with the individual extent of the periodontal lesions.