New blood test for gut bacteria predicts risk for heart attack patients
Bacteria that inhabit our gut can have a marked effect on heart and blood vessels. Scientists have discovered a new quick and easy blood test for gut bacteria that can accurately predict risk of death and heart problems in heart attack patients. Scientists discovered that measuring levels of a molecule called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) that is produced by gut bacteria from components of red meat, eggs and dairy products in blood, could give a quick and reliable way of assessing the risk of death and other major heart problems in patients arriving in A&E with chest pains. Furthermore, TMAO levels predict not only short term risk (up to 30 days) but also the risk of death in the longer term (up to 7 years.)
The findings published in the European Heart Journal found that TMAO levels also predicted higher risks of serious heart problems in patients who did not test positively for a protein called troponin T in their blood, a standard diagnostic test carried out on patients. The findings suggest the possibility of helping patients to reduce their risk by trying to reduce TMAO levels through a change in diet or by developing new drugs to prevent TMAO being produced.