Antiseptic mouthwash is commonly used to quickly refresh and clean the mouth after brushing your teeth in the morning, after eating, and before going to bed. Frequently replacing mouthwash with toothpaste as a quick fix to kill off lingering germs, however, can become a deadly habit that you may need to spit out. According to a recent study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, using a mouthwash twice daily — such as Corsodyl — may increase blood pressure up to 3.5 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), raising your heart attack risk.

High blood pressure (HBP) is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and a variety of health issues. In the U.S., approximately one in three adults have HBP, often showing no signs or symptoms, says the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. HBP that stays high over time can damage the body and affects how the blood is pushed against the walls of the arteries while the heart pumps blood. A two point raise in blood pressure can enhance the risk of dying from a stroke by 10 percent, and heart disease by seven percent.

Age, family history, being overweight or obese, and physical inactivity are just some of the risk factors that may trigger HBP. People who are overweight or obese require more blood to provide oxygen and nutrients to their tissues, says the Mayo Clinic, while being physically inactive leads to higher heart rates. The higher a person’s heart rate, the harder the heart must work with each contraction, creating a stronger force on the arteries. These two risk factors go hand-in-hand as a lack of physical activity leads to a higher risk of being overweight. Now a team of researchers at Queen Mary University of London believe using antiseptic mouthwash daily could increase the odds of HBP due to a chemical that kills the “good” bacteria responsible for helping the blood vessels relax.

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