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Harmful Gut Bacteria Cause Hypertension

Bacteria living in the intestines might be causing hypertension, suggests a new study published in the journal Physiological Genomics.

Our alimentary canal (the gut) contains innumerable species of bacteria, collectively called the gut microbiota. Normally, the latter assists us in the process of digestion. But, are they always harmless?

Some of these microorganisms, more specifically the ones residing in the intestines, might be detrimental to health: the new study has linked them with a high blood pressure. This conclusion was reached after the team of researchers analysed the microorganisms in the digestive tracts of two groups of laboratory rats: one with high blood pressure (BP), called ‘hypertensive’, and another with a normal BP.

Both sets of animals had a part of their large intestinal bacteria removed, and they were administered antibiotics for a period of 10 days to decrease their normal microbiota. Thereafter, microbiota were transplanted from the hypertensive rats to the normal-BP ones while normal microbiota were transferred to the former. It was, then, observed that rats given hypertensive microbiota developed hypertension. On the other hand, their counterparts did not display comparable effects: the originally-hypertensive rats—which received normal microbiota—did not show a significant reduction in BP; the slight decrease that was recorded was only negligible.

The authors explain that their findings support previous data that suggest microbiota is associated with hypertension in humans. They are of the opinion that probiotics would, thus, be a potential method for treating high BP.


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