As part of our regular focus on health topics which have been in the headlines, we are looking at a new potential wonder drug for people who have suffered a heart attack. For a long time statins have been a great way to lower cholesterol by slowing production in the liver. One of the main problems, however, is the risk of muscle pains when interacted with other medicines.
Statins have been used to treat disease for years but people who were taking them were likely to have another heart attack within 5 years. This is believed to be because of unchecked inflammation in the heart. Excitingly, a new breakthrough treatment has been discovered. Patients were injected with a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called Canakinumab. Doctors have found that people who took the drugs had fewer episodes later in life and were less likely to develop cancer.
During the trial, 10,000 patients were kept on statins as well as being given either the real or placebo injections. For patients who received the Canakinumab injections rather than the placebo, the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular attack. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on Canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.
Dr Paul Ridker, who led the research said of it “This has far-reaching implications. It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to significantly improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations.”
This new research is breaking open a door into the third era of cardiovascular research, this first being healthy eating and stopping smoking, the second being statins and now this which has still got many avenues to discover.
Within the trial doctors found that the risk of lung cancer was reduced by 75%, and while the reasoning is not clear as of yet they are happy that his outcome has happened and plan to research more in the future.
Professor Jeremy Pearson had some closing words “These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”
At JL Dental Care we frequently speak about gum disease and inflammation and the risks associated with a higher incidence of having a heart attack.
We frequently post articles regarding the health implications of smoking, and now we’re probably going to dishearten anyone who has quit cigarettes only to replace them with an e-cigarette.
In recent months new laws came into force which limits the size and strength of e-cigarette tanks, as well as banning certain ingredients, including colourings and caffeine. These changes were introduced as there are still so many unknown potential side-effects to vaping. If you think about it, cigarettes were marketed as having health benefits throughout the middle of the 20th Century and it took decades for us to find out the truly devastating effects on the health of smokers.
E-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products regulatory agency before they can be sold. Vape tanks larger than 2ml will no longer be permitted while e-liquid bottles now have a maximum capacity of 10ml. A maximum nicotine strength has also been set at 20mg (2%).
In the U.K. there are now almost 3 million people who use e-cigarettes, which is a rather shocking statistic when you consider this industry has really only boomed in the last five years.
A report released last month by Action on Smoking and Health found that more than half of UK vapers had given up smoking. Health bodies including Ash and the British Medical Association have said that vaping is ‘almost certainly better’ than smoking tobacco. However, experts have raised concerns about the addictive nature of vaping, with worries that it re-enforces habitual behaviour. There are also major concerns that the packaging and fruity flavours are attracting young people to the habit who would otherwise not have had exposure to nicotine.
In the UK, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death, killing almost 80,000 people annually in England alone. At the practice, we see the other effects it has on your mouth including mouth cancer, plaque and tartar, inflammation, bone loss in the jaw, teeth staining and bad breath.
Our advice if you are contemplating quitting smoking is to try and find a solution which isn’t substituting one unhealthy habit for another which could potentially have just as many health implications.
No nicotine is better for your oral health than even small amounts administered in a ‘safer’ way.
Most health experts agree that the UK is facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes. Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.9 million. By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes.
So, many of you will be wondering why a dentist is quoting these staggering figures to you and why I am positioned to comment on them? What you perhaps don’t realise is that a majority of gum disease sufferers were found to be at high risk of developing diabetes in a recent report.
However, like the old adage ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’, it’s not entirely clear which way around the diabetes and gum disease link works. Researchers studied a representative sample of 9,000 people who didn’t have diabetes, although 817 of them went on to develop the disease. The researchers found that individuals with elevated levels of periodontal disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within 20 years, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity and diet.
Diabetic patients with poor blood sugar level control are likely to have gum disease more frequently and also in a much more severe manner.
The importance of good oral hygiene cannot be overemphasised for patients with diabetes as gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) can be treated and reversed. However if left untreated, periodontitis (the advanced stage) can occur which in turn may lead to bone loss.
Risks like impaired vision and limb loss are well known to diabetics, however gum disease is rapidly being referred to as the sixth major risk.
What can you do?
Diabetic patients need to pay much more attention to their oral health and ensure a visit to us every six months for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth with one of our hygienists. You should also inform us if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and ask for advice on keeping your mouth healthy.
This Sunday (6th) is Fresh Breath Day, which was launched a few years ago to appreciate the importance of oral hygiene.
Bad breath (or halitosis) is believed to be suffered by 1 in 4 people and yet it is highly preventable. One of the main reasons it goes untreated is because many people don’t realise they have it in the first place. Think about the number of times you’ve spoken to a friend or colleague and been overwhelmed by their breath yet said nothing. The scarier thought is that perhaps people have done the same thing to you at some stage in your life.
The easiest way to tell if you have bad breath is to lick the inside of your wrist and then let it dry for a few seconds, then take a sniff. Alternatively, you could smell your floss or tongue scraper after you use it.
So, what causes bad breath?
There are many contributory factors and some of the most obvious are food, tobacco, coffee and alcohol. It goes without saying that pungent meals like curries, or anything with a lot of onions or garlic will have an effect.
What may be less obvious or visible is the effects of poor oral health, which leads to bacteria in your mouth and namely between the teeth or on the gums and tongue. My colleague Rosemary spoke a few months back about some of the tools which hygienists recommend and one of those was a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers, which are available in the practice, will remove food debris from the rough surface of the tongue and help lower bacteria and therefore the chances of bad breath.
Can it be treated in the practice?
In the vast majority of cases the simple answer is yes. There are a few exceptions of underlying medical issues like diabetes, tonsillitis or sinusitis which will require medical attention with your GP. For everyone else we will monitor your oral health closely and recommend a suitable number of hygiene appointments for a deep clean of your teeth and mouth whilst also recommending which products you should be frequently using. This will help to lower the bacteria in your mouth and in turn improve your breath.
What do I do next?
If you have concerns regarding bad breath then please make an appointment to see me as soon as possible where I will outline a treatment plan to help freshen your breath and restore your confidence.
Recent research has suggested that gum disease in patients carries a potentially higher risk of having a stroke than diabetes and has almost the same impact as high blood pressure in causing them.
Whilst obesity and smoking are commonly associated with raising the risk of suffering a stroke, many people don’t know the risks associated with poor oral health. According to the International Dental Health Foundation ‘only one in six people realise that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of stroke ‘.
Basically, bacterial infections can cause the body to be at higher risk of developing a blood clot which in turn is what causes the higher risk of developing a stroke.
What can you do?
If preventing gum disease may lower your risk of having a stroke, isn’t it worth flossing and brushing regularly? You should also visit either me, Leigh-Ann or Farrell (and your Hygienist) regularly for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth.