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Stroke. 2004 Feb;35(2):496-501. Epub 2004 Jan 5.

Periodontal disease as a risk factor for ischemic stroke.

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Department of Neurology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.



Chronic infectious diseases may increase the risk of stroke. We investigated whether periodontal disease, including periodontitis and gingivitis, is a risk factor for cerebral ischemia.


We performed a case-control study with 303 patients examined within 7 days after acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack, 300 population controls, and 168 hospital controls with nonvascular and noninflammatory neurological diseases. All subjects received a complete clinical and radiographic dental examination. The individual mean clinical attachment loss measured at 4 sites per tooth served as the main indicator for periodontitis.


Patients had higher clinical attachment loss than population (P<0.001) and hospital (P=0.010) controls. After adjustment for age, sex, number of teeth, vascular risk factors and diseases, childhood and adult socioeconomic conditions, and lifestyle factors, the risk of cerebral ischemia increased with more severe periodontitis. Subjects with severe periodontitis (mean clinical attachment loss >6 mm) had a 4.3-times-higher (95% confidence interval, 1.85 to 10.2) risk of cerebral ischemia than subjects with mild or without periodontitis (<or=3 mm). Severe periodontitis was a risk factor in men but not women and in younger (<60 years) but not older subjects. Periodontitis increased the risk of cerebral ischemia caused by large-artery atherosclerosis, cardioembolism, and cryptogenic etiology. Gingivitis and severe radiologic bone loss were also independently associated with the risk of cerebral ischemia, whereas caries was not.


Our study indicates that periodontal disease, a treatable condition, is an independent risk factor for cerebral ischemia in men and younger subjects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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