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Gut microbes may influence the risk and severity of stroke ©Getty Images
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Gut microbiome may influence the risk and severity of stroke

Published: 03rd May, 2022 at 23:00
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The discovery could lead to new methods of treating or preventing stroke using faecal transplants.

Several bacteria found within the human gut may play an important role in the development and recovery from stroke, a study carried out in Barcelona, Spain has found.

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According to the Stroke Association, stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the UK with one person being affected every five minutes.

Of these, ischaemic strokes are the most common and occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

These clots usually build up over a long period of time in areas where the arteries have become narrowed by fatty deposits known as plaques.

“The influence of the gut microbiome – the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the gut – is a modifiable risk factor associated with the risk of stroke and with post-stroke neurological outcomes. However, most research has previously been done in animal models,” said lead author Dr Miquel Lledós.

In the new study, researchers from the Sant Pau Research Institute Stroke Pharmacogenomics and Genetics Laboratory took faecal matter samples from 89 participants who had suffered from ischaemic strokes and compared them to samples taken from a healthy control group.

They found that several types of gut bacteria were linked to an increased risk of stroke. Two others were linked to more severe symptoms in the 24 hours following a stroke. And at least one other was linked to a poorer neurological recovery in the three months following a stroke.

Findings from the study were presented at the European Stroke Organisation (ESO) Conference held in Lyon, France on 4 May.

The team now hope that their findings can lead to the development of a range of new treatments for stroke involving the gut microbiome.

“The discovery opens the exciting prospect that, in the future, we may be able to prevent strokes or improve neurological recovery by examining the gut microbiota,” said Lledós.

“In other pathologies, clinical trials are being carried out where researchers replace the intestinal flora through dietary changes or faecal transplantation from healthy individuals and this should be studied further in the stroke field.”

Read more about your gut microbiome:

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Authors

Jason Goodyer
Jason GoodyerCommissioning editor, BBC Science Focus

Jason is the commissioning editor for BBC Science Focus. He holds an MSc in physics and was named Section Editor of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors in 2019. He has been reporting on science and technology for more than a decade. During this time, he's walked the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider, watched Stephen Hawking deliver his Reith Lecture on Black Holes and reported on everything from simulation universes to dancing cockatoos. He looks after the magazine’s and website’s news sections and makes regular appearances on the Science Focus Podcast.

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