Scientists are warning that antiseptic properties found in some mouthwash products could lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in users. Researchers at Queen Mary University of London found blood pressure levels increased in users after antiseptic mouthwashes containing the antimicrobial ingredient, chlorhexidine gluconate, were used. The study was published online in the journal Free Radical and Biology Medicine.

“Potential risks associated with a product are often not discovered until a product has been on the market for years” commented Megan McBride, a product liability lawyer with the Levin, Papantonio law firm. “Sometimes, drug manufacturers do little to warn of newly discovered risks, subsequently putting consumers at risk.”

 According to lead researcher, Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, chlorhexidine gluconate can kill off ‘good’ bacteria that is utilized by the body to relax blood vessels and keep blood pressure down. ‘Good’ bacteria are used by the body to create nitrite, a necessary component in the body used to control the dilation of blood vessels, reported the Daily Mail.

The study observed the blood pressure levels of 19 otherwise healthy individuals who twice daily used Corsodyl, a commonly prescribed antiseptic mouthwash. Corsodyl contains, by volume, 0.2 percent of chlorhexidine gluconate.

Researchers discovered that individuals in the group experienced a rise in their blood pressure within 24 hours of using the antiseptic mouthwash. Professor Ahluwalia notes that even small rises in blood pressure can contribute to an increased risk of death from heart attack and stroke.

Mouthwash products containing chlorhexidine gluconate have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in the treatment of gum disease. However, not all mouthwash products contain chlorhexidine, and products containing the antiseptic ingredient are available by prescription only in the United States.

Nevertheless, consumers should take precaution with other mouthwash brands, as antiseptic properties could disrupt the balance of necessary bacteria in the mouth.

Krysta is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @KrystaLoera.