Are gut bacteria linked to heart health? Ask the doctor Published: I heard on TV that bacteria in a person's gut might cause heart disease. How could that possibly be true?
I can understand your skepticism, and I shared it until recently. We've known for nearly two centuries that every human being carries various microbes bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms on us and inside us. However, we've long thought they were just freeloaders, taking advantage of the warmth and nutrients our body provided them, not having any effect on our health.
In the last 10 years, however, research has produced two big surprises. Each microbe has its own genes.
The first big surprise was that, collectively, all the microbes that live on us or in us have more than times as many genes as we have human genes. All their genes, taken as a group, are called our microbiome.
The function of any gene is to make a particular protein. The second big surprise was the discovery that many of the proteins made by our microbiome are like the proteins made by our own genes.
Those microbiome-produced proteins get into our bloodstream, travel around our body, and affect our health.
In other words, it has suddenly become very plausible to imagine that bacteria or other microbes living in our gut could affect other organs in our body, including the heart. For one thing, it appears the bacteria in our gut can affect risk factors for heart disease.
For example, the gut microbiome probably influences whether we become obese or develop type 2 diabetes. It also can affect the levels of LDL bad cholesterol in our blood, and our blood pressure. People who suffer from obesity, diabetes, high levels of LDL cholesterol, or high blood pressure are at greater risk for developing heart disease.
In addition, bacteria in our gut can directly affect the plaques of atherosclerosis in the arteries of our heart — the most common cause of heart disease. Most heart attacks occur when a plaque of atherosclerosis ruptures. This causes a clot to form and the artery to narrow, blocking blood flow and causing a part of the heart muscle to die.
The gut microbiome can increase the tendency of a plaque to rupture, reduce the ability of the artery to widen, and increase the tendency of blood to clot: So the bacteria in our gut probably are a risk factor for heart disease.
However, our understanding of this connection isn't yet sufficient to develop treatments that will protect us against heart disease, and such knowledge is unlikely to come soon.We have written an up to date version of how to close your LinkedIn account which can be found here. There are always those that chose to not use the tool properly, that bemoan that it doesn’t.
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