Nightly News   |  April 27, 2013

Gut check: Stomach bacteria linked to heart attacks?

A new study indicates people who had been treated for heart disease showed higher levels of a chemical we all carry in our stomachs called TMAO. Could a simple blood test measuring stomach bacteria predict future risk of heart attack, stroke and death? NBC’s Robert Bazell reports.

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>>> warnings about heart attacks , the things we can do to lower our risk, but now comes worry that despite our best efforts, many of us may have a hidden risk for heart attacks that doctors are just now beginning to understand. with more, here's robert bazell .

>> six years ago, linda was the very picture of health . she ate right and had frequent check-ups. then she had a heart attack .

>> i didn't think i was at risk for a heart attack , number one, because i was very thin. my cholesterol, they checked everything all these years.

>> many people have heart attacks even though they don't have high cholesterol , high blp and diabetes, so doctors are always looking for new risk factors t. latest culprit, a chemical called tamo. a three-year study of 4,000 people who had been treated for heart disease showed the higher level of tmao in the blood, the greater their future risk.

>> a simple blood test that's measuring a bacterial prukd is able to predict risk for heart attack , stroke --

>> when a person eats cheese, eggs and red meat , harmless bacteria help digest the food, but in the process, they increase tmao, which increases plaque in the arteries. this latest study is part of a growing understanding of the complex role of gut bacteria in health. we need the bacteria to help digest food and try to kill them off with antibiotics only makes things worse. if this latest research holds up, a blood test for tmao may become another way to identify people at risk frk heart disease . understanding the role of gut bacteria may lead to new ways to prevent heart disease . robert bazell , nbc news, new york.