Homocysteine (say: "ho-mo-sist-een") is an amino
acid (a building block of protein) that is produced in the human body.
Homocysteine may irritate blood vessels, leading to blockages in the arteries
homocysteine levels in the blood can also cause cholesterol to change to
something called oxidized low-density lipoprotein, which is more damaging to the
arteries. In addition, high homocysteine levels can make blood clot more easily
than it should, increasing the risk of blood vessel blockages. A blockage might
cause you to have a stroke or a problem with blood flow. Up to 20% of people
with heart disease have high homocysteine levels.
is normally changed into other amino acids for use by the body. If your
homocysteine level is too high, you may not have enough B vitamins to help this
process. Or you may not have enough of the chemicals (enzymes) to process
people with a high homocysteine level don't get enough folate (also called folic
acid), vitamin B6 or vitamin B12 in their diet. Replacing these vitamins helps
return the homocysteine level to normal. Other possible causes of a high
homocysteine level include low levels of thyroid hormone, kidney disease,
psoriasis, some medicines, or inherited deficiencies in the enzymes used to
process homocysteine in the body.
is measured using a simple blood test. It can be measured at any time of day.
It is not necessary to prepare in any special way for the blood test (such as
fasting). Most hospital labs can measure homocysteine, or a blood sample can be
sent out to a special lab.
healthy homocysteine level is less than 12 µmol per L. A level greater than 12
µmol per L is considered high. If your homocysteine level is 12 to 15 µmol per
L and you have blockages in any blood vessel, you need to lower your
homocysteine to less than 12 µmol per L. If you have no other major risk
factors for cardiovascular disease and you do not have atherosclerosis, it may
be okay for you to have a modestly high level of homocysteine (12 to 15 µmol
no studies have proved that lowering homocysteine levels ultimately helps reduce
strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events, it is a good idea to
lower a high homocysteine level because it is a risk for heart disease.
more fruits and vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables) can help lower
your homocysteine level by increasing how much folate you get in your diet. Good
sources of folate include many breakfast cereals, lentils, chickpeas, asparagus,
spinach and most beans. Folate is sometimes called "folic acid."
adjusting your diet is not enough to lower your homocysteine, you will also need
to take specific vitamins. You may need to take a fairly large amount of folate
(about 1 milligram per day). Additional vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 also help the
body process homocysteine. Vitamin B supplements generally have no side effects.
The usual recommended vitamin and folate doses for lowering
homocysteine levels are as follows:
taking these vitamins doesn't lower your homocysteine level, your doctor may
have you try a higher dose. Or you may need to have some tests to see if you
have a health condition that causes high homocysteine levels.
is important to get your homocysteine level rechecked after you have been taking
the multivitamin and folate for 8 weeks. If your homocysteine level remains
high, your doctor may change your treatment. You may need to take more folate (2
mg per day). If you have had a high homocysteine level, you will probably need
to have your level checked regularly - maybe 2 or 3 times a year.
Courtesy – American Academy of family physicians, 2003
Toprani Advanced Lab Systems, 2005
Suflam Appt, 10 Haribhakti Colony, Racecourse, Vadodara - Guj 390007 India
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