Ischaemic heart disease

Is the gut microbiome the missing link in heart disease?

Probiotics may be a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease say researchers who have found a link between microbiomes in the gut and arterial stiffness.

In their study of 617 middle-aged female twins the researchers from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at St Thomas’ Hospital in London in the UK found the gut microbiome was strongly correlated with levels of arterial stiffness (measured using carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity) independently of visceral fat and other obesity-related traits.

The research, published in the European Heart Journal also identified specific microbes which were linked to a lower risk of arterial stiffening. 

Commenting on the findings co-author of the study Dr Ana Valdes from the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine and NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre said: “We know that a substantial proportion of serious cardiovascular events like heart attacks are not explained by traditional risk factors such as obesity and smoking, particularly in younger people and in women and that arterial stiffness is related to risk in those groups.

So our results reveal the first observation in humans linking the gut microbes and their products to lower arterial stiffness. It is possible that the gut bacteria can be used to detect risk of heart disease and may be altered by diet or drugs to reduce the risk.”

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