Arterial stiffness is the main factor in young people who have heart attacks, where a substantial proportion of serious cardiovascular events cannot be explained by traditional risk factors such as obesity and smoking. This view prompted researchers at the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and King’s College London to study diet, gut bacteria composition and arterial stiffness in 617 pairs of middle aged female twins.
The early conclusions showed that women with a higher risk of arterial stiffness had a lower diversity of gut bacteria. Certain bacteria were shown to reduce the stiffness, co-incidentally the same bacteria that were linked with lower rates of obesity.
This prompted work showing that a higher natural fibre diet of whole grains, fruit and vegetables generated a wider variety a good bacteria, lowered inflammation and less risk of stiffened arteries and thus heart disease.
Dr. Ana Valdes and her team felt that more work needed to be done but that in future heat attack risk might be assessed though an analysis of the microbiome and that dietary solutions that prompted increases in certain bacteria might reduce risk.
- Cristina Menni et al. Gut microbial diversity is associated with lower arterial stiffness in women, European Heart Journal(2018). DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehy226