Clogged arteries…Don’t need them, don’t want them!
A five-year study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association about Peripheral Artery Disease discusses some startling findings.
Patients who had high blood levels of a particular digestive byproduct were significantly more likely to die.
The digestive byproduct, named trimethylamine N-oxide(TMAO), is produced by bacteria in the gut which is present when it’s breaking down red meat, eggs, and other meat products…the traditional Western diet.
Previous research has associated TMAO with narrowing of the heart’s arteries, otherwise known as coronary artery disease.
After studying 821 patients with PAD who received a screening test for coronary artery disease and blood tests to determine TMAO levels, researchers found that the incidence of short and long-term death progressively increased as blood levels of TMAO rose.
Compared to patients with the lowest levels, those with the highest levels of TMAO were 2.7 times more likely to die of any cause.
Although the results don’t prove that high TMAO levels caused the deaths, they demonstrated an association.
About 8.5 million Americans have clogged arteries, in the form of Peripheral Artery Disease, a circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs, particularly to the lower extremities.
It develops when fat and other substances accumulate in the arteries of the legs, arms, head or abdomen — restricting or blocking blood flow.
- The legs are affected most often, and common symptoms include pain or cramping during walking or other movements that disappear with rest.
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, Peripheral Artery Disease can often be treated with lifestyle changes, such as:
- Stopping smoking
- Increasing exercise
- Losing weight
- Controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar and
- Eating a heart-healthy diet.
However, as W. H. Wilson Tang, M.D. (study lead author and professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio) asserts:
“Improving our understanding of the functional changes that link gut microbes with Peripheral Artery Disease development, may help us improve the selection of high-risk PAD patients, with or without significant coronary artery disease, who likely need more aggressive and specific dietary and medical therapy.”