Do oral bacteria play a role in hypertension?

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Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the wall of the arteries. It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day, but if it remains elevated, it can cause health issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlight that a person with hypertension is more likely to have a stroke or develop heart disease. An estimated 47%Trusted Source of adults in the U.S. have hypertension, with the condition particularly affectingTrusted Source older adults and females.

ResearchersTrusted Source have noted that despite there being evidence-based approaches to preventing and reducing hypertension, it is still highly prevalent. As such, there is continuing research to understand why people develop hypertension and how to address this.

ScientistsTrusted Source have identified that the relationship between the microbiome and hypertension risk is worth further investigation.

The microbiome is a collection of microbes — primarily bacteria — that live in and on a person’s body. Scientists are finding more and more evidence that the microbiome plays a role in maintaining good health.

There is some evidenceTrusted Source that the gut microbiome affects an individual’s risk of hypertension. In the present study, however, the researchers focused on the oral microbiome and its relationship with hypertension risk.

Over 1,000 participants

The researchers drew on the Buffalo Osteoporosis and Periodontal Disease Study. They looked at data from 1,215 women who have experienced menopause, with an average age of 63 when they enrolled in the study between 1997 and 2001.

When the participants enrolled, the researchers took samples of their oral bacteria from below their gumline and measured their blood pressure. The researchers also took the participants’ medical histories and recorded any medications they were taking.

At the beginning of the study, 40% of the participants were taking hypertension medication.

About half of the participants who did not have hypertension or were not receiving treatment for the condition at baseline went on to receive a hypertension diagnosis and treatment during the 10-year average follow-up.

Link between bacteria and hypertension

After analyzing the oral bacteria samples, the researchers identified 10 species that they linked to a greater risk of hypertension, ranging from a 10% to a 16% increase.

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