Individuals with a gut microbiome imbalance are more at risk of experiencing cardiovascular complications compared to those with balanced gut bacteria, a new study has reported.

Researchers from Europe and Israel have found a connection between imbalanced gut bacteria and the development of chronic heart disease, heart failure and angina.

The team is now calling for greater public health support to help combat medical conditions with a high mortality rate, such as heart attacks.

According to the scientists, plant-based meals, energy-controlled diets, taking part in regular physical activities and not smoking can improve the structure of the gut microbiome and reduce the risks of heart problems.

The human gut microbiome is formed of trillions of microorganisms, including fungi and bacteria.

A balanced gut microbiome helps control digestion and benefits the immune system, whereas an imbalanced microbiota can cause severe health complications, including chronic heart disease.

An imbalanced gut microbiome occurs due to a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet, the study has reported.

Prior research has identified that an imbalanced gut microbiome is common in people who are obese and individuals with type 2 diabetes. In addition, certain types of drugs can trigger the imbalance.

Senior author Professor Oluf Pedersen, from the University of Copenhagen, said: “We applied a study design that mirrors heart disease initiation and escalation over time, substituting for a longitudinal study of the gut microbiome that otherwise would be impossible to perform given the 50 to 60 years it takes to develop symptoms of arteriosclerosis and have the diagnosis of heart disease.”

During the study, the academics examined the gut bacteria of more than 1,000 middle-aged adults to assess whether they went on to experience a heart attack, angina or heart failure.

They discovered that the participants with an imbalanced gut microbiome were more at risk of developing a heart complication compared to those with a balanced microbiota.

Additionally, they found 700 types of bacteria in the participant’s gut microbiome and more than 1,000 compounds in their blood.

“We found that about half of these gut bacteria and blood compounds were modified by drug treatment and not directly related to heart disease or the early disease stages like diabetes or obesity occurring prior to diagnosis of heart disease,” said Professor Pedersen.

He added: “Among the remaining half, about 75 per cent of the disturbances of the gut microbiome occurred in the early disease stages of overweight and type 2 diabetes, many years before patients noticed and symptoms of heart disease.”

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