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New link found between gut bacteria and heart health

Monday 14th May 2018
UK scientists have discovered that the amount of good bacteria found in the gut may have an effect on a persons cardiovascular health.
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Researchers have made a potentially important cardiology breakthrough with the discovery of a new link between gut bacteria and cardiovascular health.

A team from the University of Nottingham and King's College London have determined that the level of diversity of 'good bacteria' in the human digestive system may affect the prevalence of arterial stiffening, a common feature of heart diseases.

For this study, 617 middle-aged female twins had the composition of their gut microbiomes analysed, revealing a significant correlation in all the women between the diversity of the microbes in the gut and the health of their arteries.

After adjusting for metabolic variations and blood pressure, arterial stiffness was shown to be higher in women with lower diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut, with several specific microbes that had previously been associated with a lower risk of obesity also linked to a reduced risk of arterial stiffening.

As such, this means that further analysis of the gut microbiome could help to characterise certain cardiovascular risks that cannot be explained by the usual factors - a discovery that could be particularly useful in categorising cardiovascular risk in younger people and women.

It also suggests that nutrition-based health interventions - for example, high-fibre diets that improve the quantity and diversity of useful microbes in the gut - might be useful in reducing people's risk of developing heart problems.

Dr Cristina Menni, from the department of twin research and genetic epidemiology at King's College London, said: "There is considerable interest in finding ways to increase the diversity of gut microbes for other conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

"Our findings now suggest that finding dietary interventions to improve the healthy bacteria in the gut could also be used to reduce the risk of heart disease."

Written by Mathew Horton

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