April 9, 2009

Purdue professor links gum and heart diseases in dogs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University study has recently demonstrated a link between gum diseases and heart problems in dogs.

"Our data shows a clear statistical link between gum disease and heart disease in dogs," said Larry Glickman, a professor of epidemiology, who conducted the study. “We knew from previously published research that there was growing evidence of a link between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes, birth defects and low birthweight among humans. So we thought it was time to assess whether such a link existed in dogs.  The research is important because gum disease occurs in up to 75 percent of all dogs by middle age."

Glickman's study was published in the February edition of the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association.

For his research, Glickman examined records of 59,296 dogs with gum disease and matched them to those of a similar number of dogs without gum problems. He followed the dogs over time to see which ones developed heart diseases and the type of heart disease that developed. He then did statistical tests to see if the incidence of heart disease would increase as the severity of the gum disease increased.

Moving forward, Glickman wants to understand how gum and cardiac diseases are related.

"We'll first evaluate whether gum disease in dogs causes systemic signs of inflammation and identify the specific bacteria in the mouth that are responsible for inflammation," he said. "Knowing the mechanism is important because it'll allow us to develop preventive drugs and then examine their effectiveness. We can also get pet food companies to develop foods that will prevent gum disease in dogs and cats."

Gum diseases can be prevented by good oral hygiene and regular visits to a veterinarian who can scale and clean the dog's teeth, Glickman said. But many pet owners don't realize that gum disease causes more than just bad breath, he added.

Glickman was assisted in his research by George Moore, a veterinarian at Purdue University's Small Animal Hospital, Gary Goldstein, a veterinary dentist at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota at St. Paul, Minn., and Elizabeth Lund at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Portland, Ore.

Writer: Soumitro Sen, 765-496-9711, ssen@purdue.edu

Source: Dr. Larry Glickman, 765-426-8118, ltg@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu



Evaluation of the risk of endocarditis and other cardiovascular events on the basis of the severity of periodontal disease in dogs

 Lawrence T. Glickman, VMD, DrPH; Nita W. Glickman, MPH, PhD; George E. Moore, DVM, PhD, DACVPM, DACVIM; Gary S. Goldstein, DVM, DAVDC; Hugh B. Lewis, DVM, DACVP

Objective - To test the hypothesis that increased severity of periodontal disease in dogs is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular-related events, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy, as well as markers of inflammation.

Design-Historical cohort observational study.

Sample Population - 59,296 dogs with a history of periodontal disease (periodontal cohort), of which 23,043 had stage 1 disease, 20,732 had stage 2 disease, and 15,521 had stage 3 disease; and an age-matched comparison group of 59,296 dogs with no history of periodontal disease (nonperiodontal cohort).

Procedures-Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to estimate the risk of cardiovascular-related diagnoses and examination findings in dogs as a function of the stage of periodontal disease (1, 2, or 3 or no periodontal disease) over time while controlling for the effect of potential confounding factors.

Results - Significant associations were detected between the severity of periodontal disease and the subsequent risk of cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy, but not between the severity of periodontal disease and the risk of a variety of other common noncardiovascular-related conditions.

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