Byproduct of Eating Animal Products Leads to Heart Failure

The Physicians Committee

Byproduct of Eating Animal Products Leads to Heart Failure

October 29, 2014

A compound produced in the gut when the body digests meat may lead to heart failure, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. For five years, researchers followed 720 patients who had previously been treated for heart failure. Those with the highest levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) in their blood had a 3.4-fold increase risk of dying, compared with those with the lowest levels. The body produces this chemical when it digests certain foods, including organ meats, red meat, and eggs. The presence of TMAO in the blood may also indicate other conditions such as stroke. These findings will allow clinicians to make dietary recommendations to both prevent and treat heart disease.  

The same researchers published findings related to TMAO and heart disease last year.

Tang WH, Wang Z, Fan Y, et al. Prognostic value of elevated levels of intestinal microbe-generated metabolite trimethylamine-n-oxide in patients with heart failure: refining the gut hypothesis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64:1908-1914.

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