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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Disease Diseases Arrow to Heart DiseaseHeart Disease Arrow to HomocysteineHomocysteine

human heart & circulationHomocysteine (ho-mo-sist-een) is an essential amino acid that has gotten much coverage in the press lately as a culprit in the development of blood clots, stroke and heart disease.

Studies have indicated that homocysteine damages the arteries and then oxidizes cholesterol before it infiltrates the vessel.

Hyperhomocysteine - or high levels of homocysteine in the blood - is not a new discovery but has taken on new importance by doctors as an underlying cause of cardiovascular risk that can no longer be ignored.

How do I know if I have elevated homocysteine levels?

Homocysteine is measured using a simple blood test.

Dangers of high homocysteine in the bloodstream

Much like LDL or "bad cholesterol", homocysteine only begins to pose a danger when it becomes oxidized (reacts with oxygen molecules in the blood). The damaged homocysteine molecules then begin to scar the inner lining of blood vessels, leaving small pothole-like lesions that provide perfect places for plaque buildup.

As evidence mounts that a heart attack or stroke is more likely to occur in the presence of high homocysteine levels, a number of scientists have even named it as the single biochemical risk factor for blood coagulation — leading to danger of clot formation, heart disease and stroke.

While focus remains on cardiovascular disease, it should also be noted that people suffering with Alzheimer's disease, depression, eye conditions, liver damage, Crohn's disease, colitis and Parkinson's disease often have elevated homocysteine levels found in their bloodstream.

Vitamin B & folic acid therapy for higher levels of homocysteine

Just as research points to many cancer patients suffering from low levels of vitamin D , higher homocysteine levels have been linked to lower levels of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid in patients who suffer from heart disease.

Studies have not shown benefits to existing damage caused by heart disease, but there is evidence that B vitamins and folic acid are beneficial to reducing risk in patients prone to stroke. Therefore, a vitamin B & folic acid regimen may be a good preventative for those with a family history or genetic risk for cardiovascular and other diseases.

More about homocysteine around the Web:

Homocysteine - Family - Basic information on causes and dangers, with a guide to lowering homocysteine levels through diet and supplements.

Heart Disease: Homocysteine: A New Heart Disease Risk Factor - WebMD

Quack Watch - Homocysteine: A Cardiovascular Risk Factor Worth Considering


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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