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Having the wrong gut bacteria may be linked to stroke risk

Dec 01, 2015

Having the wrong gut bacteria may be linked to stroke risk

     Trillions of bacteria live in us and on us. Collectively, they are referred to as our microbiome and there can be a significant variation in bacterial populations from person to person, and this is strongly influenced by lifestyle.
Some of the bacteria are very good and support good digestion, regularity, a robust and properly functioning immune system, metabolism in general, and even our body mass index (how much fat to how much muscle we have). Some of the bacteria are opportunistic, meaning in certain circumstances they infect us and sometimes can become remarkably dangerous.
Research is quickly uncovering which bacterial species influence obesity, heart health and blood sugar. Here is another level of evidence supporting the knowledge of how bacteria can help or hurt our health. The study is from various research institutions and is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
In one group patients with hardening of the lining of the arteries in the neck (carotid atherosclerosis) but without symptoms and subjects with healthy arteries were included; all of these people did not have a significant difference in their gut bacteria and they had similar levels of TMAO (see note below on TMAO). In the other group of patients, those who suffered a stroke or a mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack); the bacteria in their intestines was clearly different with more of the opportunistic types of bacteria and fewer of the beneficial sorts of bacteria. This imbalance in the types of bacteria, commonly referred to as dysbiosis, was related to the severity of their disease. The TMAO level in the patients who suffered a stroke or mini-stroke was significantly lower, rather than higher than the healthier group.

Note: TMAO stands for trimethylamine-N-oxide; a metabolite thought to cause atherogenesis (hardening of the arteries.)