New research from TwinsUK and the University of Nottingham has identified a link between gut microbe diversity and arterial stiffness.
Arterial stiffness, or hardening, happens naturally as we age and is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The rate at which this hardening occurs varies from person to person.
The gut microbiome is implicated in various aspects of health, and has previously been linked to inflammation, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Using data from 617 female twins, researchers found that gut microbiome diversity correlates with arterial stiffness; arterial stiffness is higher in women with lower diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut.
The researchers were also able to identify specific types of healthy bacteria that lowered the risk of arterial stiffening. These bacteria have previously been linked to a lower risk of obesity.
The results suggest that the gut microbiome could in future be used to identify those people at higher risk of a cardiovascular event in the absence of more traditional risk factors such as obesity or smoking.
This study was funded by the British Heart Foundation and MRC and was published by European Heart Journal.