Heart Disease & Gut Microbiota: How They Are Connected
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death globally, and it can have a significant impact on the quality of life for those who suffer from it.
Gut microbiota, is a collection of microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts, including fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Our body hosts trillions of such microorganisms in our body, and together they play a crucial role in many health aspects, including immune, metabolism, and digestion function. Studies have shown that may be a connection between heart disease and gut microbiota. For example, the critical pathophysiologic mechanism that causes the development of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis, which involves lipid metabolism, the immune system, and vasculature. Our gut microbiota may affect inflammation in the body and atherosclerosis, thus indirectly and directly causing cardiovascular disease.
In this blog post, we will explore the connection between heart diseases and gut microbiota, as well as provide tips to improve your gut and heart health.
Human gut microbiota
The human gut microbiota is a collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive system, primarily in the large intestine. It is estimated that our digestive system is home to up to 1150 microbial species, exceeding the size of our human genome. The microbiota includes fungi, viruses, bacteria, as well as other microorganisms that aid in overall health and digestion. They are a complex ecosystem that is influenced by several factors, such as genetics, medication, environment, and diet.
Some of the most common and critical types of bacteria found in our gut are actinobacteria, firmicutes, and Bacteroidetes. The composition of our gut microbiota changes with age, stabilising throughout adulthood and declining as we age due to reduced physiological functions. A healthy gut microbiota protects the individual from enteropathogens and epithelial cell injuries, affects and optimises digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as regulates fat metabolism. A weak gut microbiota may lead to the leaky gut syndrome that introduces various components of our gut microbiota to our immune system.
The connection between gut microbiota and heart disease
Our gut microbiota can impact the health of our heart in several ways, including affecting blood pressure, regulating cholesterol levels, and contributing to inflammation. One way that our gut microbiota contributes to inflammation is the release of certain species of gut bacteria by-products, known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS may contribute to chronic inflammation, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease.
A gut microbiome in a state of dysbiosis contributes to the production of atherosclerotic metabolites in our gut, such as trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which causes atherosclerosis, a key driving factor of coronary artery disease. Our gut microbiota also may also play a significant role in regulating cholesterol levels.
Conclusion: Future of gut microbiota and heart diseases
While research has only started to uncover the connection between gut microbiota and heart disease, there is still so much more to explore its role in the development of other pathological conditions. Some areas of research that could be explored further include:
- Developing new diagnostic tools: Researchers may work to create new tools for diagnosing gut dysbiosis.
- Identifying new treatments: Researchers may work to identify new therapies, such as dietary or probiotic interventions, that can enable the healthy balance of gut microbiota.
- Conducting more extensive studies: Larger and more in-depth studies could be conducted to investigate the connection between gut microbiota and heart diseases, allowing a greater and more precise understanding of the specific bacterium types that impact heart health.
- Investigating the role of the gut-brain axis: Research may explore if there is a connection between heart health and the gut-brain axis and how mental health and stress impact gut microbiota and heart diseases.
Nevertheless, it is never too early or too late to ignore our gut health. Whether you might have experience vomiting symptoms or diarrhoea symptoms, a gastroenterology visit to GUTCARE is highly recommended to give you peace of mind.
Click here to make an appointment with us today!