Lowering homocysteine – Vitamin therapy can protect against heart attacks and strokes

Lowering homocysteine – Vitamin therapy can protect against heart attacks and strokes

If there is too much homocysteine ​​in the blood, the risk of a life-threatening cardiovascular disease can increase ninefold for the people affected. That is undisputed. However, whether this risk can be reduced with the additional administration of specific vitamins was the subject of heated debate among experts last year. However, a new study now shows that consistent and high-dose vitamin therapy can offer good protection against stroke and heart attack.

Removal of homocysteine ​​by vitamins

Homocysteine ​​is an endogenous substance. It is created as an intermediate product in human metabolism. Still, it is highly toxic to the body’s cells and must, therefore, be broken down again quickly or converted into less dangerous substances.

Three vitamins are responsible for the quick and smooth removal of homocysteine: folic acidvitamin B12 and vitamin B6. Therefore, a permanent lack of folic acid and the other two vitamins is not without consequences. Homocysteine ​​is no longer wholly eliminated; its level in the blood increases, the walls of the blood vessels are attacked, the blood coagulates more efficiently, and deposits can form that impede blood flow. This is then referred to as hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis. It stands to reason that an improved vitamin supply could eliminate the problem.

 

Studying in the USA should provide information.

A large study in the USA should examine whether people who have already had a stroke can be prevented from recurring by taking vitamins. However, the result disappointed the high expectations; no positive effect of the vitamin administration could be proven.

In the meantime, however, the scientists have once again subjected their study data to a critical analysis and discovered several sources of error. The study did not consider that folic acid has been added to flour as a standard in the USA and Canada since 1996. Low folic acid levels are rarely found in the local population and, thus, also in the untreated control group. A meaningful comparison with the treated patients was, therefore, hardly possible. The vitamin B12 levels of the patients also needed to be checked better. If these sources of error are eliminated, the results are significantly more favourable for vitamin therapy. The risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases decreased by more than 20 per cent.

situation in Germany

The homocysteine ​​level in around five to ten per cent of the German population is estimated to exceed the ten micromoles per litre limit. To determine whether you belong to this risk group, everyone over 50 should have a homocysteine ​​test carried out by a doctor because homocysteine ​​starts to rise around this age. Only a tiny blood sample is required. Depending on the result, the doctor will either give the all-clear or recommend tablets that combine the vitamins folic acid, B12 and B6.

The doctor will probably recommend intensive therapy with vitamin injections to people who are already known to have vascular problems because, in this way, homocysteine ​​can be reduced to harmless levels as quickly as possible.

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