The COVID-19 pandemic has awakened us to the things that truly matter, most especially the value of our overall health. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the world and patients who suffer from it are among the high-risk and most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
As we are now living in these challenging times, this year’s theme for World Heart Day is #UseHeart to beat cardiovascular disease. As stated in the World Heart Federation website, #UseHeart is about using:
- Your head
- To understand what it takes to live a heart healthy life and to act on that knowledge, changing your behavior for a better quality of life now and in the future.
- Your influence
- As an individual to set an example for your loved ones.
- As a healthcare professional to help your patients make positive changes for their heart health.
- As an employer to invest in the heart health of your employees.
- As a government to implement policies and initiatives that will lead to better societal heart health, such as sugar taxes, smoking bans and reducing air pollution.
- Your compassion
- To look beyond the self and act in ways that support the most vulnerable in society; those with underlying heart-related conditions that may put them at greater risk in the time of COVID-19.
Love your heart, brush your teeth
Over the years, several studies have established the connection of oral health to cardiovascular health.
In a study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions (2018), it was concluded that poor oral health (based on tooth brushing habits) is associated with poorer heart health. Researchers studied the tooth brushing habits of 682 people and found out that who brushed less than twice a day for less than two minutes had a threefold increased risk of heart attack, heart failure or stroke.
In another study by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (2019), it is deduced that brushing our teeth regularly translates to a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. While this research did not delve in studying mechanisms, it is assumed that frequent tooth brushing reduces bacteria in the subgingival biofilm (bacteria in between the teeth and gums) which in turn prevents its translocation to the bloodstream.
To achieve and maintain optimum oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning in between teeth with floss or interdental cleaners, eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks in between meals, and visiting your dentist regularly for oral examinations and professional cleanings.