Affiliation: Av Brig Faria Lima 5416, Postal Code: 15090-000, Sao Jose do Rio Preto/Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of deaths. Also, cardiovascular risk factors start the atherosclerotic process, which leads to cardiovascular diseases. Nowadays, periodontal disease can also be considered another cardiovascular risk factor. It involves inflammatory, immunological and humoral activities, which induce the production of proinflammatory cytokines and the destruction of the epithelium. This allows the entry of endotoxins and exotoxins in the bloodstream, which may contribute to atherogenesis and thromboembolic events. There is also direct invasion of the vessel wall by oral pathogens, triggering an inflammatory response that produces endothelial dysfunction. In hypertension, changes in microcirculation can cause ischemia in the periodontium, which favors periodontal disease. Moreover, endothelial dysfunction promotes the formation of atherosclerotic plaque and the development of lesions in target organs. Periodontitis has also been associated with insulin resistance and a higher risk for the metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by oxidative stress. This seems to act as a common link to explain the relationship between each component of the metabolic syndrome (including hypertension) and periodontitis. This article will discuss clinical and experimental evidence, as well as possible pathophysiologic mechanisms and links involved in the relationship among periodontal disease, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.