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Red tongue could be an early warning sign of deadly heart disease, warns doctor

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Microbes hiding on your tongue could help detect heart failure, according to researchers.

The study carried out by Dr. Tianhui Yuan from the Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine claimed that patients with chronic heart failure have “totally different” tongues to those who do not have this condition.

Normal tongues are pale red with a pale white coating.

Heart failure patients have a redder tongue with a yellow coating and the appearance changes as the disease becomes more advanced.

Our study found that the composition, quantity and dominant bacteria of the tongue coating differ between heart failure patients and healthy people.

Microorganisms or germs/bacteria are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope and their growth could lead to severe illness.

In order to carry out the team studied the tongues of participants with and without chronic heart failure.

Of those who volunteered in the study, 42 patients had chronic heart failure while 28 were healthy.

None of the patients who took part had oral or dental issues.

The researchers also pointed out that none of the participants had used antibiotics or immunosuppressants in the past week, neither were they pregnant or lactating.

To take samples from the tongue coatings each morning, stainless steel spoons were used.

These were taken before participants brushed their teeth or had eaten breakfast.

The researchers then identified bacteria from the samples provided.

They found that patients with heart failure shared the same microorganisms in their tongue coating, which subsequently made their tongues a darker shade.

Dr Yuan added:

More research is needed, but our results suggest that tongue microbes, which are easy to obtain, could assist with wide-scale screening, diagnosis, and long-term monitoring of heart failure.

The underlying mechanisms connecting microorganisms in the tongue coating with heart function deserve further study.

While the new study, published by the European Society of Cardiology, found that patients with heart disease would present with a red tongue, previous research has also suggested that this could detect early pancreatic cancer.

Certain bacteria creates immunity but an imbalance in this could stimulate disease and inflammation.

Researchers said inflammation and the immune response also play a key role in heart failure.

Image Credit: iStock

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