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Microorganisms on the tongue could help diagnose heart failure, according to research presented

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, the tongue coating differ between heart failure patients and healthy people, according to the research presented by author Dr. Tianhui Yuan, No.1 Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.


This study investigated the composition of the tongue microbiome in participants with and without chronic heart failure. The study enrolled 42 patients in the hospital with chronic heart failure and 28 healthy controls.


The researchers found that heart failure patients shared the same types of microorganisms in their tongue coating. Healthy people also shared the same microbes. There was no overlap in bacterial content between the two groups.


Five categories of bacteria distinguished heart failure patients from healthy people, with decreases in levels of Eubacterium and Solobacterium, bacteria found in normal mouths.

The author suggested that 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.


It is interesting to note that tongue color, configuration and texture have been the hallmark diagnosis in Chinese Medicine, dating back thousands of years. Perhaps the confluence of Western and Chinese Medicine in this regard portends more interesting developments in the future.

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