One of the things many family caregivers help their aging relatives with is taking care of their oral health. Perhaps you assist with brushing teeth and taking the older adult to the dentist. If so, you may be helping them to also prevent a stroke, according to the results of two new studies.
About the Oral Health Study
Inflammation has been associated with an increased risk for stroke. It is believed to play a role in narrowing of the arteries. Since gum disease is a source of inflammation in the body, researchers wondered how it might impact the risk for stroke.
There were 265 participants in the first study. All of them had had a stroke. The team of researchers examined whether gum disease might play a role in specific kinds of strokes. The results of the study showed:
- Strokes caused by hardening of the arteries in the brain were twice as prevalent in people with gum disease.
- Participants with gum disease had a three times higher chance of suffering a stroke involving the blood vessels at the back of the brain. This is the area of the brain that controls vision and coordination, among other things.
- Gum disease was more common in people who had had a stroke that involved large blood vessels. However, it wasn’t as common in people who had suffered a stroke because of blockages elsewhere.
The second study included 1,100 people who hadn’t had a stroke. The study results included:
- Patients who had inflamed gums had double the chance of having moderately to severely narrowed brain arteries.
- Those with gum disease had a 2.4 times higher chance of having severely blocked arteries in the brain.
Other Risk Factors for Stroke
These studies don’t prove that gum disease causes stroke, but they do suggest it might be a risk factor, and one that seniors can control by taking good care of their teeth. Other risk factors for stroke include:
- Lack of exercise.
- Poor diet.
- Certain medical conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
Senior care can help your aging relative to reduce stroke risks in several ways. For example, a senior care provider can prepare healthy meals that provide all the nutrition the older adult needs without excess fat, salt, and other undesirable elements. Senior care providers can also aid your aging relative in being more physically active by going for walks with them, monitoring them while they exercise at home, or driving them to a gym for a class.