Probiotics may lower the risk for heart disease? Research says, ‘yes’!

Every year nearly 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. While these numbers are staggering, the first step towards fighting cardiovascular problems and lowering cholesterol levels starts with a living a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, daily exercise along with adding a probiotic supplement.

Further research and studies conducted on probiotics show that gut health can be related to the heart. A healthy gut with a rich flora of life-supporting bacteria can mean the prevention of many health issues, even preventing and treating heart ailments.

Research shows probiotics can lower the risk for cardiovascular disease by limiting two risk factors:

A new Cleveland Clinic study links a particular type of metabolite called Trimethylamine (TMA) N-oxide or TMAO as a recently discovered independent risk factor for coronary artery disease and strokes. This chemical interacts with the lining of our arteries leading cholesterol plaques. Harmful intestinal bacteria breakdown a chemical called choline that is in egg yolk, liver, beef, and pork. The breakdown metabolite called TMA is converted by the liver into TMAO.

TMAO: The New Culprit

High plasma levels of TMAO correlated with an increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events that is independent of traditional risk factors like hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), smoking and hypertension. The authors of the study recommend limiting the intake of the choline containing foods and adding a beneficial probiotic that will reduce the harmful bacteria that metabolize choline. “This is a very exciting study,” said Dr. Crandall. “It gives us a brand new way of looking at heart disease. It also opens an avenue for new tests and treatments.”

The discovery of the heart disease-causing bacteria might explain why about half of those who die of sudden heart attacks have no known risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes, he noted.

Lowering circulating blood total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)

In another study from the American Heart Association, researchers tracked cholesterol esters bound to saturated fat, which has been linked to dangerous arterial plaque buildup and occurs at higher levels in coronary artery disease in patients.

The study involved 127 adult patients with high cholesterol. About half the participants took a probiotic called Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day while the other half of the group were given placebo capsules. Those taking the probiotic had LDL levels 11.6 percent lower than those on placebo after nine weeks. Furthermore, cholesterol esters were reduced by 6.3 percent and cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8 percent, compared with the placebo group.

Scientists have proposed that Lactobacillus bacteria alone may impact cholesterol levels in several ways, including breaking apart molecules known as bile salts which results in lower production of cholesterol by the liver.

If you are struggling with cholesterol-related health problems or are on a weight loss program that isn’t working for you, consider meeting with your medical practitioner and adding a high quality probiotic like EndoMune to lessen risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Heartburn meds can harm your heart

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men and women, claiming more than 600,000 lives every year.

Of the 735,000 Americans who have a heart attack every year, more than 70 percent (525,000) are experiencing one for the first time. Nearly half of Americans have at least one of these risk factors for heart disease:

  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure

A new risk factor for heart attacks is Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), which are drugs that work by decreasing the amount of acid in the lining of the stomach, based on a recent study appearing in PLOS One.

Accounting for an estimated $13 billion in annual sales, PPIs are one of the most popular classes of drugs that Americans take. (One out of 14 Americans have taken PPIs, according to the FDA.)

Although patients use PPIs to treat heartburn, these drugs are prescribed to treat other health problems too, including Barrett’s esophagus, ulcer-inducing H. pylori infections and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

The most popular PPIs are available over-the-counter, including Zegerid (a combination of omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), Prilosec (omeprazole magnesium) and Prevacid (lansoprazole).

A recent review of some 2.9 million patient records by researchers at Houston Methodist and Stanford University concluded that those with no prior history of heart disease, who took PPIs increased their risk of heart attack by as much as 21 percent.

On the other hand, patients who took another type of over-the-counter drug used to reduce stomach acid — Histamine antagonists (H2 antagonists or H2 blockers) — experienced no extra risk of heart attack. (Zantac, Pepcid and Tagamet are popular H2 blockers sold over-the-counter.)

What made the difference between these sets of drugs? A 2013 study that examined the ability of PPIs to damage the endothelium led to some answers, says Dr. John Cooke of Houston Methodist and senior author of the PLOS One study, according to a press release.

“Our earlier work identified that the PPIs can adversely affect the endothelium, the Teflon-like lining of the blood vessels. That observation led us to hypothesize that anyone taking PPIs may be at greater risk for heart attack.”

The risk of heart attack isn’t the only reason why you should think twice before taking a PPI drug. Another recent study found omeprazole disrupted the gut health of every patient so severely, that they were vulnerable to Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections.

Before taking a PPI, you may want to consider these non-drug solutions first:

  • Delay your bedtime about two hours after eating a nighttime meal.
  • Avoid heartburn triggers like high-acidic foods, alcohol and smoking.
  • Consume smaller meals with less fat.
  • Consider losing a few pounds.
  • Take a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids) that protects your gut health too.

Your gut bacteria may determine how statins work…or don’t

Statins are a very handy and popular class of drugs that reduce cholesterol levels and lessen a patient’s risks of cardiovascular disease (stroke and heart attack).

Well-known brands of statin drugs like simvastatin (Zocor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor) can be an advantage to human health when they work properly. Unfortunately, statins don’t work for everyone, and a 2011 study published in PLOS ONE suggests a gut bacteria link may explain why.

Overall, data collected from 148 patients enrolled in the nationwide Cholesterol and Pharmacogenetics (CAP) study who had taken simvastatin were reviewed by a research team led by a Duke University scientist.

In addition to examining health data from 100 patients whose LDL cholesterol dropped dramatically thanks to taking simvastatin, researchers also reviewed results from 24 patients who derived little benefit from the statin drug and an equal number whose response was deemed “fairly good.”

Scientists collected blood work before any patients had taken a statin to identify signs of specific bile acids and sterols (fat-like substances connected to the use and breakdown of cholesterol).

Three kinds of bile acids produced by specific gut bacteria were found in samples taken from patients who responded well to statins for six weeks. On the other hand, five different kinds of bile acids were produced in patients whose bodies didn’t respond well to statins.

The difference between both groups: because bile acids and statins share the same pathways (to the intestines and liver) and compete for dominance, scientists speculate that patients whose bodies produce too many bile acids prevent statins from reaching their intended target—the liver—where the production of cholesterol is controlled.

Researchers believe a blood test that screens for bile acids could determine who responds well to simvastatin and who doesn’t.

“It’s no doubt that metabolites from bacteria are playing an important role in regulating our systems,” said lead researcher Dr. Rima Kaddurah-Daouk at Duke University School of Medicine in a press release. “We’re at a very early stage of understating this relationship, but eventually we could take a quick chemical assay and get a read on where we are metabolically.”

A more recent study supporting these findings concluded increasing bile salt hydrolase (proteins produced by gut bacteria that alter the chemical properties of bile acids) may slow down weight gains and serum cholesterol in mice.

In both studies, researchers cited probiotics as a possible solution to lower cholesterol, another reason among many to protect and enhance the diversity of beneficial bacteria in your gut by taking a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Gut bacteria controls your weight, cholesterol levels

While scientists have shown a strong connection between gut health and obesity, their research has stopped short of pinpointing the origin. Irish researchers are now closer to finding the missing link — bile salt hydrolase (BSH) — in a recent study that could explain how gut bacteria controls your weight and cholesterol levels.

Bile salt hydrolase is a protein produced by gut bacteria that alters the chemical properties of bile acids (chemicals produced in the liver that are an important component of bile secretions) in the gut.

Previous studies have shown how “bile acids work as signaling molecules in the host, almost like a hormonal network, with an ability to influence [the] host metabolism,” says co-author Dr. Cormac Gahan of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at University College Cork (Ireland).

This latest study concluded that increasing levels of BSH slows down weight gains as well as serum cholesterol levels in mice.

The next step in their research is looking for a human connection to this discovery. “The findings may be used as a basis for the future selection of probiotics or dietary interventions which target this mechanism to regulate weight gain or high cholesterol,” says co-author Dr. Susan Joyce.

Even better, Dr. Joyce says, “We now have the potential for matching probiotic strains with specific end-user needs.”

These latest findings go hand-in-hand with a 2013 review of studies that examined the value of BSH as cholesterol-lowering agents. Many studies concluded BSH-active bacteria were efficient in lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol as well as total cholesterol.

They may also explain the findings in a recent blog post that demonstrated how a healthy diversity of gut bacteria may prevent obesity and protect patients from the damage done by cardiovascular diseases, including chronic inflammation and diabetes.

The best and easiest way to maintain a diverse mix of bacteria in your gut: Take a multi-species probiotic made from multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic every day.

Protect the gut health and boost the immune systems of your kids by giving them a daily probiotic made just for them, like EndoMune Advanced Junior.

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