New research has suggested gut microbiota may play a role in determining the risk and severity of heart attacks. Dr John Baker and his team of researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin, USA, belIeve that the types and levels of bacteria in our gut could be used as a risk marker in predicting the likelihood of a heart attack. The findings, published online in the Federation of American Socities and Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, also suggests that manipulating the microbiota of the gut with probiotics could lower the risk of suffering a heart attack, specificaly in those undergoing cardiac surgery. The discovery could lead to the establishment of new diagnostic tests and therapies that may prevent and treat heart attacks. Dr Baker commented, "Our discovery is a revolutionary milestone in the prevention and treatment of heart attacks."

The study observed the effects of diet on three groups of rats. The first group was given a standard diet. The second was fed antibiotics and the third group received a probiotic supplement that contained Lactobacillus plantarum. The group treated with antibiotics had a 27% reduction in severity of heart attack and improved recovery of mechanical function by 35% compared to the group fed a standard diet.

The group that was fed the probiotic supplement had a 29% reduction in severity of heart attack and a 23% improvement in mechanical function.

Dr Gerald Weissman, editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal, also commented on the new research and its potential implications for cardiac diagnosis, "Just as physicians use cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall body composition as measures of heart disease risk, we may soon evaluate our body's susceptibility to disease by looking at the microbes that inhabit the gut."

OptiBac says: This is very promising research which showcases the wide plethora of health benefits probiotics can and possibly will provide in the future. However, at the current time we do not recommend probiotics for post-cardiac surgery patients. Further research and human studies are required to document the safety of taking probiotics in groups at higher risk of infection.

Reference: Baker, J. et al (2012) Intestinal microbiota determine severity of myocardial infarction in rats. FASEB Journal. Published online ahead of print.


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