For more than a decade, physician Erol Onel has been working in the pharmaceutical industry. He has held such roles as director and vice president over the course of his career and currently provides scientific leadership to Heron Therapeutics as vice president. Dedicated to helping others, Erol Onel supports such charities as the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association, the largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting stroke and heart disease, recently published the results of a new study on gut bacteria and clotting in its journal, Circulation. This study was funded by the Office of Dietary Supplements and National Institutes of Health.
The study was conducted on 18 volunteers, and included vegans and vegetarians as well as omnivores. All volunteers took supplements of choline bitartrate two times daily for two months. This resulted in trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) levels increasing by 10 times their original amount and caused platelets to form clots more often. Volunteers who took baby aspirin every day saw a decrease in clot formation, despite the higher TMAO levels.
According to the research, consuming excess choline, a nutrient commonly found in eggs, meat, and other staples of Western diets, increases the risk of clotting and the amount of the bacteria-produced compound TMAO. Excessive clotting reduces the flow of blood through the body and increases individuals’ risk of stroke, heart attack, and damage to the organs. Meanwhile, high levels of TMAO has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.