Heart failure is a common condition that occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Since heart failure is associated with chronic inflammation, experts have wondered about the link between intestinal bacteria and outcomes for heart failure patients. Gut bacteria can cause inflammation—the body’s natural response to harmful stimuli. It’s possible that gut bacteria are especially harmful to heart failure patients, who are already prone to chronic inflammation.
To learn more, researchers analyzed the gut bacteria in eighty patients. Sixty patients had mild to severe heart failure, while the remaining twenty patients were healthy.
After analysis, researchers found that dangerous bacteria like salmonella were much more common in patients with heart failure compared to the control group. In fact, authors report that heart failure patients had “massive” amounts of harmful bacteria compared to healthy adults.
Researchers also found that bacteria was associated with inflammation and was most pronounced in patients with severe heart failure. Therefore, the more severe a patient’s heart failure was, the more harmful bacteria was present.
The findings, which were recently published in JACC: Heart Failure, confirm that heart failure patients have an overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria, which may contribute to chronic inflammation. Too much bacteria can also impact metabolism and nutrition, potentially worsening outcomes in heart failure patients. The next step, as authors explain, is to identify potential treatments to normalize gut bacteria in patients with heart failure. With future research, experts hope to better understand the role of gut bacteria and help improve both outcomes and quality of life for heart failure patients.