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Research Findings

In 2015 we contacted the men in PRIME who had a dental examination as part of the study. We found that those with periodontitis (gum disease) had an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes over an 8 year period following their baseline dental examination. The findings were published in a major international journal. They are shown in an animation produced by the British Heart Foundation, which provided the funding to support the study This was one of the first prospective (look forward) studies worldwide to show that men with periodontitis have an increased risk of developing diabetes, which in turn is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. We are currently reviewing the medical records to analyse whether gum disease was a risk factor for a first time coronary event such as a heart attack.



Winning, L., Patterson, C. C., Neville, C. E., Kee, F. & Linden, G. J.  (2017) Periodontitis and incident type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study.  Journal of Clinical Periodontology  44(3): 266- 274.


There have been a wide range of other findings from the follow-up of the men in this long running study. 

The PRIME study has shown that:

  • In relation to alcohol consumption ‘binge’ drinking which concentrates alcohol intake on the weekend in Belfast cancels most of the heart-protective effects of alcohol found in other countries.

  • Inflammation has a significant role in the progression of coronary heart disease. It has identified novel inflammatory ‘biomarkers’ which independently predict the risk of coronary heart disease.

  • A score derived from a combination of ‘biomarkers’ improves risk estimation for events such as heart attacks.

  • Depression is related to coronary heart disease after adjustment for certain biomarkers. 

In conclusion PRIME is a unique study, based in Northern Ireland, investigating various aspects of atherosclerotic disease including heart disease and strokes. The study has resulted in over 75 research papers in major peer-reviewed journals. The output from PRIME is widely recognized as making a major contribution to the understanding of risk factors underpinning the development, progression and indeed prevention of cardiovascular disease.