Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) Blood Test
The Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) Blood Test measures TMAO levels to assess cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
What is CVD?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), also referred to as heart disease, starts in childhood and manifests as a disease later in life. CVD is inflammation of the arteries caused by plaque buildup over time. This plaque buildup restricts the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, eventually leading to a severe condition such as a heart attack or stroke. According to the World Health Organization, CVD is the leading cause of death globally, more than all cancers. Recommendations for CVD screening with a standard lipid panel vary, with some expert organizations recommending screening begin as early as 20 years old. However, patients with increased risk factors for CVD may require earlier and more frequent screenings.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) Blood Test, which measures TMAO levels to assess cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. TMAO is a metabolite developed from bacteria in the gut. Specifically, TMAO is a substance produced by the liver after intestinal bacteria digest certain nutrients from the foods we eat, such as L-carnitine (obtained from red meat) and lecithin (derived from egg yolks, meats, and full-fat dairy products). In addition, lecithin also enters into the intestines as a component of bile. Hence, all individuals, regardless of diet, feed their gut microbes lecithin and have the potential for high levels of TMAO. Therefore, this test is beneficial for predicting future risk for heart attack or stroke in individuals with an increased risk for CVD and those who appear otherwise healthy.
When should I order a Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) Blood Test?
Individuals may order this test if they have an increased risk of developing CVD. Cardiovascular disease risk factors include:
- Increasing age
- Family history of early cardiovascular disease
- Insulin resistance
- Liver disease
- High cholesterol from a prior test
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes or prediabetes
- Overweight or obese
- Smoking cigarettes
- Unhealthy diet
- Not enough physical activity
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