In a new study from the University of Florida, researchers solved the elusive medical mystery of why many adults have both high blood pressure and depression.
They took a long, in-depth look at one suspected culprit: gut bacteria.
They found the gut microbiome affects physiology and molecular events throughout the body, including parts of the brain that control blood pressure and depression.
High blood pressure and depression are interrelated in many people, yet unlinked in others. Cardiologists and psychiatrists don’t know why.
The two conditions are sometimes so intertwined it has also led them to coin a new phrase: depressive hypertension.
The gut’s role in the two prevalent, chronic conditions was first explained by a trio of UF Health researchers in September 2019.
Now, using a branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, the researchers have zeroed in on the specific bacteria suspected of causing depression coupled with high blood pressure.
It’s a crucial step toward the long-term goal of improving health management and developing novel treatments based on the analysis and manipulation of gut bacteria, the researchers said.
In the study, the team used a novel machine learning approach to develop a much more sophisticated DNA analysis of gut bacteria.
They suspected that people with depression and hypertension would have unique gut microbiomes.
To establish their findings, the researchers focused on four groups of people—those with high blood pressure and depression, those who only had high blood pressure, those who only had depression, and healthy people.
They deployed machine learning to make sense of myriad data points about the patients and their gut bacteria.
What emerged was a clear view of the unique gut bacteria in different patients: A trio of dominant bacteria was found in people with depression.
Five other bacteria were prevalent in those with high blood pressure and five different dominant strains were noted in people with depression and hypertension.
The healthy patients in the study had yet another combination of four dominant bacteria.
The team says gut microbe analysis and manipulation holds significant promise for treating depression, hypertension or both.
For cardiologists and psychiatrists, analyzing gut bacteria may prove to be a reliable shortcut to finding the most effective therapies or recommendations for improving lifestyles.
If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about this simple exercise may lower blood pressure more effectively and findings of common high blood pressure drugs can actually raise blood pressure in some people.
For more information about blood pressure treatment and prevention, please see recent studies about this diet could help reduce high blood pressure in older people and results showing that blood pressure management in this way can be effective and low-cost.
The study is published in the American Heart Journal.
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