Atrial fibrosis contributes to the onset and persistence of atrial fibrillation (AF) and AF-related stroke. Periodontitis, a common infectious and inflammatory disease, aggravates some systemic diseases. However, the association of periodontitis with AF and with atrial fibrosis has remained unclarified.
The authors aimed to elucidate the relationship between periodontitis and atrial fibrosis by studying resected left atrial appendages (LAAs).
Seventy-six patients with AF (55 with nonparoxysmal AF, 25 with mitral valve regurgitation, 18 with LAA thrombus) who were scheduled to undergo LAA excision during cardiac surgery were prospectively enrolled. All patients underwent an oral examination, and the remaining number of teeth, bleeding on probing, periodontal probing depth, and periodontal inflamed surface area (PISA) were evaluated as parameters of periodontitis. The degree of fibrosis in each LAA was quantified by Azan–Mallory staining.
Bleeding on probing (R = 0.48; P < 0.0001), periodontal probing depth of ≥4 mm (R = 0.26; P = 0.02), and PISA (R = 0.46; P < 0.0001) were positively correlated with atrial fibrosis. Among patients with >10 remaining teeth, PISA was positively and strongly correlated with atrial fibrosis (R = 0.57; P < 0.0001). After adjustments for age, AF duration, BMI, mitral valve regurgitation, and CHADS₂ (congestive heart failure, hypertension, age, diabetes, previous stroke/transient ischemic attack) score, PISA was significantly associated with atrial fibrosis (β = 0.016; P = 0.0002).
The authors histologically revealed the association of periodontitis with atrial fibrosis. This indicates that periodontitis, which is modifiable, is likely a risk factor for AF.