- A study of human gut bacteria – known as the gut microbiome – suggests that high blood pressure with depression may be a completely different disease than high blood pressure without depression.
- The gut may be targeted someday to prevent, diagnose and selectively treat different forms of high blood pressure with or without depression.
Embargoed until 3 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. ET Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 5, 2019 — A study of bacteria in the gut identified differences between people with high blood pressure compared to those with high blood pressure plus depression, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.
“People are ‘meta-organisms’ made up of roughly equal numbers of human cells and bacteria. Gut bacteria ecology interacts with our bodily physiology and brains, which may steer some people towards developing high blood pressure and depression,” said Bruce R. Stevens, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of physiology & functional genomics, medicine and psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida. “In the future, health professionals may target your gut in order to prevent, diagnose and selectively treat different forms of high blood pressure.”
Stevens said there’s potential for this research to uncover treatment approaches that could improve outcomes in people with treatment-resistant hypertension. Nearly 20 percent of patients with high blood pressure don’t respond well to treatment, even with multiple medications.
The researchers isolated DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, the carrier of genetic information) from gut bacteria obtained from the stool samples of 105 volunteers. They used a new technique involving artificial-intelligence software to analyze the bacteria, which revealed four distinct types of bacterial genes and signature molecules. Surprisingly, the investigators discovered unique patterns of bacteria from people with 1) high blood pressure plus depression; 2) high blood pressure without depression; 3) depression with healthy blood pressure; or 4) healthy subjects without depression or high blood pressure.
Stevens said the results suggest different medical mechanisms of high blood pressure that correlate with signature molecules produced by gut bacteria. These molecules are thought to impact the cardiovascular system, metabolism, hormones and the nervous system.
“We believe we have uncovered new forms of high blood pressure: 'Depressive Hypertension' (high blood pressure with depression), which may be a completely different disease than 'Non-Depressive Hypertension' (high blood pressure without depression), which are each different from 'Non-Hypertensive Depression,’” Stevens said.
Co-authors are Carl Pepine, M.D.; Mohan Raizada, Ph.D.; Kim Seungbum, Ph.D.; and Elaine Richards, Ph.D. Author disclosures are in the abstract.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the University of Florida Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the department of physiology & functional genomics at the University of Florida funded the study.
- Available multimedia is on the right column of the release link
- Gut bacteria hold clues to heart health
- Follow AHA/ASA news on Twitter @HeartNews #Hypertension19
NOTE: Actual presentation is 4pm CT/5pm ET Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Association policy or position. The Association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries and AHA Expert Perspective: 214-706-1173
Cathy Lewis: 214-706-1324; firstname.lastname@example.org
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)