Gut Bacteria Byproduct Predicts Heart Attack and Stroke (Video)
Bacteria in your gut can play a role in heart disease. Advertising Policy Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy New research shows that choline, a nutrient found in foods like egg yolks and fatty meats, … Read More
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
New research shows that choline, a nutrient found in foods like egg yolks and fatty meats, produces the byproduct TMAO when digested. TMAO is known to promote plaque accumulation in the arteries causing heart disease.
Similar to vitamin B, choline is a nutrient that helps in the development of our cell membranes. While our bodies need it, dietary recommendations discourage people from eating too much of certain high-choline foods.
Dr. Hazen explains, “Bacteria that live in our intestines play a role in the digestion of certain types of food to form the compound TMAO, which promotes the accumulation of plaque in the arteries.”
Participants in the study were asked to eat two hard-boiled eggs and take a choline capsule. Results showed that TMAO levels in the blood increased after ingesting the eggs and the capsule. And when participants were given antibiotics to suppress their gut flora, their TMAO levels dropped. This illustrated how important gut flora is to the formation of TMAO.
Decoding the research
These study findings strongly suggest that further research into the involvement of gut flora in the development of cardiovascular disease could lead to new avenues of prevention and treatment of heart disease.
“Our goal is not to suggest dietary restrictions of entire food groups. Eggs, meat and other animal products are an integral part of most individuals’ diets,” says Dr. Hazen. “This study shows that measuring blood levels of TMAO could serve as a powerful tool for predicting future cardiovascular risk, even for those without known risk factors.”
Dr. Hazen goes on to say that more studies are needed to confirm that TMAO testing, like cholesterol, triglyceride or glucose levels, might help guide physicians in providing individualized nutritional recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease.
Cleveland Clinic has a licensing agreement with a diagnostic company to develop and commercialize a blood test for cardiovascular disease based upon the gut flora metabolite, TMAO. Dr. Hazen is listed as a co-investigator on pending and issued patents held by the Cleveland Clinic relating to cardiovascular diagnostics. He also is a paid consultant to the company and has received royalty payments for technology that he developed.