Are gut bacteria linked to heart health?

Ask the doctor


Image: © metamorworks/Getty Images

Q. I heard on TV that bacteria in a person's gut might cause heart disease. How could that possibly be true?

A. I can understand your skepticism, and I shared it until recently. We've known for nearly two centuries that every human being carries various microbes (bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms) on us and inside us. However, we've long thought they were just freeloaders, taking advantage of the warmth and nutrients our body provided them, not having any effect on our health.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »