Mouthwashes Can Raise Heart Attack Risk by Killing Off Good Bacteria

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mouth-wash-hear-attack-riskCertain antiseptic mouthwashes can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke, new British research reveals.

Mouthwash containing the powerful antiseptic chlorhexidine  can kill off ‘good’ bacteria that help blood vessels relax, the (UK) Daily Mail reports. Healthy volunteers who used Crosodyl mouthwash, which contains chlorhexidine , experienced a blood pressure rise within hours. Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, of Queen Mary University in London, who led the study, said killing off so many beneficial bacteria is a “disaster” because “small rises in blood pressure have significant impact on morbidity and mortality from heart disease and stroke.” The research was published in the journal Free Radical Biology And Medicine.

The mouthwash studied contains chlorhexidine, which kills the microbes that help create nitrite, essential for the blood vessels to dilate properly. The chlorhexidine  mouthwash caused nitrite production in the mouth to fall by over 90 per cent, and blood nitrite to fall by 25 per cent. The study compared blood pressure levels in 19 healthy volunteers who started using Corsodyl twice daily. Their blood pressure rose by between 2 and 3.5 units (mmgh), according to the Daily Mail, and the researchers reported that this effect appeared within one day of using the mouthwash. For each two-point rise in blood pressure, the risk of dying from heart disease rises by seven per cent, according to separate research, and such increases raise the risk of stroke by 10 percent.

The researchers say these mouthwashes are useful on a short-term basis to treat tooth or gum infection, but consumers should be cautious about using them on a daily basis. Because chlorhexidine mouthwash can cause tooth discoloration, in the U.S. it is available by prescription so that a dentist can monitor staining, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).