Chew on This: Understanding the Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease

Heart Health, Nutrition, Other, Uncategorized

As a writing member for an American College of Cardiology Workgroup, we are tasked with interesting and timely topics related to cardiovascular disease prevention. Our latest review “Oral Health and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease: A Review” was led by my colleague and fellow cardiologist, Dr. Eugenia Gianos.

Listed below are notable highlights from this review:

  1. Periodontal disease (PD) is common in the U.S., (affecting 46% of adults) and is associated with a 3.5-fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Risk factors for PD include smoking, diabetes, obesity, emotional stress and poor oral hygiene.
  2. Severe periodontitis is associated with impaired vascular health and a higher risk of heart attacks.
  3. A specific bacteria isolated from dental plaque (Streptococcus sanguis) is associated with an increased risk of blood clots.
  4. PD is associated with insulin resistance and worsening glycemic control whereas intensive periodontal treatment improves glucose control in diabetics.
  5. Cigarette smoking is associated with a 20-fold increased risk of gingivitis and PD.
  6. Fifteen or more cigarettes smoked daily raises the risk of tooth loss by 3-fold.
  7. Poor oral hygiene may be an independent risk factor for hypertension.
  8. If you have PD and are hypertensive, you are less likely to respond to blood pressure medications or achieve BP control!

The Bottom Line: Good oral hygiene is pivotal for maintaining a healthy heart!

Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.  Make sure to check out his daily heart health tips on twitter ( or Facebook: (healyourheartbook).

St Louis: A Great City & Storied Baseball Team



St Louis is a great American city filled with midwestern charm and youthful energy. The Cathedral Basilica (a portion of which is shown in the first frame) is one of America’s most beautiful Catholic churches and the Gateway Arch, the world’s tallest stainless steel monument (height=width), represents U.S. expansion from East to West.  St. Louis is also home to Washington University (WashU),  one of America’s premier institutions of higher learning.

As I watch the 2018 World Series, I can’t help but reminisce about one of baseball’s most storied franchises, the St. Louis Cardinals.  After all, the redbirds (not the Dodgers or the Red Sox) are second only to the Yankees in winning the most World Series championships.  And among the greatest Cardinals to ever play the game (my all-time favorite) was 3rd baseman Ken Boyer. His clutch grand slam home run in the 1964 World Series turned the tide in favor of St. Louis as the Cardinals upended the Yankees (and their all-star trio of Mantle, Maris and Ford). Check out the recent book on Ken Boyer that provides a compelling argument in support of Boyer’s induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.


WWII Heroes, Poker & Life Lessons



Over the past several years, Monday nights have become a favorite of mine as we gather together at a neighbor’s house to play poker.  Now, if I am going to lose on a regular basis, I couldn’t think of more deserving men to give away my hard earned cash than to 4 heroes: 3 World War II Veterans and retired police officer.  As pictured from left to right, Mel: a former Marine who fought in the Battle of Okinawa,  Bruce: who served to protect the citizens of Baltimore during his years on patrol,  Carmen: who won a Purple Heart for his bravery during the Battle of Anzio, and Rene: who fought in the Battle of Dunkirk, (the subject of a recent motion picture). 

Below are several observations learned in my poker games with these heroes.

  1. Heroes don’t talk about themselves & shy away from the spotlight.   (During poker games, it took a lot of prodding for each of these men to talk about their heroic acts).
  2. Heroes are brutally honest.  (Each of these players ensures that the game is played above board and no cheating occurs).
  3. Heroes are kind & empathetic. (When I customarily “lose my shirt” after playing poker, these heroes are genuinely kind and offer solace & comfort).
  4. Heroes have incredible poker faces. (That’s probably why I always lose)!     Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.  He has conducted numerous research studies aimed at improving heart health and covered in his book:  “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“.