Gum Infection May Be a Risk Factor for Heart Arrhythmia, Researchers Find

Researchers at Hiroshima University have found periodontitis, a gum disease, can lead to severe problems in the body including the heart.

In a new study, the team found a significant correlation between periodontitis and fibrosis, a scarring to an appendage of the heart’s left atrium that can lead to an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.

“Periodontitis is associated with a long-standing inflammation, and inflammation plays a key role in atrial fibrosis progression and atrial fibrillation pathogenesis,” said first author Shunsuke Miyauchi. “We hypothesized that periodontitis exacerbates atrial fibrosis. This histological study of left atrial appendages aimed to clarify the relationship between clinical periodontal status and degree of atrial fibrosis.”

In the study The left atrial appendages were surgically removed from the patients, and the researchers analyzed the tissue to establish the correlation between severity of the atrial fibrosis and severity of the gum disease. They found that the worse the periodontitis, the worse the fibrosis, suggesting that the inflammation of gums may intensify inflammation and disease in the heart.

According to Nakano (another author of the study), in addition to improving other risk factors such as weight, activity levels, tobacco and alcohol use, periodontal care could aid in comprehensive atrial fibrillation management. However, she cautioned that this study did not establish a causal relationship, meaning that while gum disease and atrial fibrosis degrees of severity appear connected, researchers have not found that one definitively leads to the other.

“Further evidence is required for establishing that periodontitis contributes to the atrial fibrosis in a causal manner and that periodontal care can alter fibrosis,” Nakano said. “One of our goals is to confirm that periodontitis is a modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation and to promote dental specialists’ participation in comprehensive atrial fibrillation management. Periodontitis is an easy modifiable target with lower cost among known atrial fibrillation risk factors. Thus, the achievement of this study series may bring benefits for many people worldwide.”


Shunsuke Miyauchi, Hiromi Nishi, Kazuhisa Ouhara, Takehito Tokuyama, Yousaku Okubo, Sho Okamura, Shogo Miyamoto, Naoto Oguri, Yukimi Uotani, Taiichi Takasaki, Keijiro Katayama, Hisako Furusho, Mutsumi Miyauchi, Shinya Takahashi, Toru Hiyama, Yukiko Nakano. Relationship Between Periodontitis and Atrial Fibrosis in Atrial Fibrillation. JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, 2023; 9 (1): 43 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacep.2022.08.018

Hiroshima University. “Gum infection may be a risk factor for heart arrhythmia, researchers find.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2023. <>.

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