A gut check for heart failure patients



Heart failure patients who consume more dietary fibre tend to have healthier gut bacteria, which is associated with reduced risk of death or need of a heart transplant. The fibre study was presented today at Heart Failure 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Our gut microbiota is composed of trillions of microorganisms that have the potential to affect our health, said study author Dr Cristiane Mayerhofer, of Oslo University Hospital, Norway. Previous research has reported reduced biodiversity of microbes in the gut of patients with heart failure patients. Today we show for the first time that this is related to low fibre intake.

The study also linked meat intake to higher levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) in patients with heart failure. Prior research has shown that increased TMAO levels are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular events, and that gut microbes play a role in its formation.

We show an important pathway that connects diet, microbial activity, and cardiovascular disease, said Dr Mayerhofer. It would be prudent for patients with heart failure to limit their meat intake to two to three times a week.

To conduct the study, the investigators recruited 84 well-treated patients with chronic heart failure and 266 healthy people. The composition of gut microbes was assessed by sequencing the bacterial 16S rRNA gene in stool samples and compared between the two groups. — VoM

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