The link between cholesterol management and cardiovascular diseasesMeasuring the risks of cardiovascular problems

Researchers reported that by undertaking a blood test which assesses the levels of TMAO, a certain compound found in the stomach can strongly indicate if one experiences heart problems like stroke down the road. When the level of TMAO- trimethylamine- N- oxide in the stomach is higher, this also increases the risks of cardiovascular problems, reported the research team from Cleveland Clinic. Eventually, doctors could target TMAO in their efforts of reducing or preventing heart problems. This new blood test aims at measuring the compound in blood, which is generated by bacteria in the gut and could be used for predicting in a powerful and strong way the risk of stroke, heart attack and even death in the future, said Dr. Stanley Hazen, the lead researcher from Lerner Research Institute Clinic.

By measuring TMAO, this seemed to predict the risk of heart attach much better compared to common blood tests and other risk factors like smoking, cholesterol and high blood pressure and cholesterol, noted Stanley. Hazen said that TMAO is a highly potential new target which doctors and researchers can focus on in their efforts of preventing heart disease.

Sources and effects of TMAO in the blood

During the preclinical study, researchers noted that egg yolks contained dietary choline whose metabolism by bacteria in the gut leads to the formation of TMAO. Another possible source of this compound is carnitine, which is usually present in red meat. According to the researchers, the effect of TMAO is changing the metabolism process for cholesterol. He insisted that TMAO doesn’t change cholesterol in the blood but rather alters the usual management of cholesterol. In a more specific way, TMAO leads to the attachment of cholesterol in the blood vessels. Additionally, the same compound also makes it much difficult for the intestines and the liver to eliminate cholesterol as they should.

Since the level of TMAO in the blood is related directly to diet, people who eat meat most of the times have the highest TMAO levels. According to the researchers, such a test could help in tailoring diet requirements among individuals as a way of reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. Just as American Heart Association recommends, TMAO levels can be reduced by taking heart healthy diets comprising low sugar, dairy and fat levels. Due to this, vegetarians obviously have low TMAO levels.

During the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 4000 patients. They were then followed for an average of three years in order to produce more conclusive results. Higher levels of TMAO in the blood came with higher heart attack risks and stroke according to the investigators. People with highest TMAO levels had high risks of over 2.5 times compared to those with lowest TMAO levels. When commenting about the research findings, a spokesman for American Heart Association sad that there has been increased interest in studying the role played by intestinal microbial metabolism in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.