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Gut bacteria can affect heart health; here's how it happens

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 9 months ago

A recent study published in the journal Circulation has found a connection between gut bacteria and the development of coronary atherosclerotic plaques, which are fatty deposits in the arteries that increase the risk of cardiac events. The study examined the gut bacteria and cardiac imaging of nearly 9,000 participants without prior heart disease. Researchers discovered a strong association between two specific types of bacteria and the presence of these plaques. Interestingly, they also found that the levels of these bacteria in the mouth were linked to their levels in the gut.

This study is significant because it is the first to examine the connection between gut bacteria and coronary atherosclerotic plaques in individuals without prior cardiovascular disease. This means that the results are not influenced by medications or lifestyle changes due to existing conditions. The large sample size and use of state-of-the-art techniques to analyze the microbiome and atherosclerosis further enhance the validity of the findings.

While the exact mechanism behind the gut-heart link is still under investigation, it is believed to be related to chemicals or processes associated with gut bacteria. These bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause infection or inflammation in the plaques or other sites, leading to systemic inflammation and negative effects on immune cells. Inflammatory factors can also affect blood vessels, impairing their function and contributing to plaque formation and atherosclerosis.

One of the most notable findings of the study was the close association between Streptococcus species and systemic inflammation. These bacteria were found in high abundance in individuals with coronary atherosclerosis, and previous studies in mice have shown that exposure to Streptococcus species can promote plaque growth. This suggests a potential link between the bacteria found in the mouth and disease of the oral cavity.

Research on the gut microbiome has revealed many connections between specific bacteria and various health conditions. It is speculated that certain bacteria may release substances that benefit heart health or suppress inflammation and harmful bacterial growth. The impact of bacteria extends beyond the gut, as beneficial bacteria can release substances into the bloodstream that reach organs like the heart and brain.

However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind the gut-heart connection and to determine the potential for interventions or treatments based on these findings. Nonetheless, this study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the significant role of gut bacteria in overall health and highlights the potential impact on cardiovascular health.

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