Gut bacteria affect more than digestion. Microorganisms living inside us have broad effects on our wellbeing, including a role in heart health, research suggests.
Maintaining healthy gut bacteria may improve risks for artery hardening, coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke, Healthline reported.
Poor gut diversity was linked to artery hardening in women, Healthline reported, citing a recent study published in the European Heart Journal that suggested diet and probiotics could reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. The study pinpointed which microbes were linked to lower risk for hardening arteries.
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Gut bacteria also may play a role in the buildup of plaque in arteries, according to Healthline, which cited a 2017 study that found a vastly different gut microbiome among people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease compared with healthy people.
The genes of microbes that live in and on humans are collectively are known as the microbiome, and they produce proteins that get in the bloodstream and affect health, including the ability to affect risk factors for heart disease, according to Harvard Medical School's Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff.
Gut bacteria can influence such things as obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and plaque in the arteries of the heart. Understanding how gut bacteria affect health is still emerging, so effective treatments based on gut bacteria are still to come, Komaroff said.
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Research at the Cleveland Clinic published in the journal Nature Medicine in August offers one promising development. The study, led by Dr. Stanely Hazen, focused on atrimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) produced by gut bacteria. This chemical is a predictor of future cardiovascular disease. The study tested a compound aimed at blocking production of TMAO in mice without killing the gut bacteria.
"To our knowledge, this is the most potent therapy to date for 'drugging' the microbiome to alter a disease process," Hazen said, according to Medical News Today. "In addition, gut bacteria are altered but not killed by this drug, and there were no observable toxic side effects."
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This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.