Homocysteine Test Indicates Risk Heart Attack and Alzheimer's
By Robert Rowen, MD.
Many doctors have been slow to watch your homocysteine levels. And, a few years ago, there were conflicting reports on its value. I've always liked the test, and a new study supports its use. In fact, this study shows how you can significantly reduce your risk for heart attacks.
In this study, researchers followed 2,009 participants for nearly 12 years. That's enough time to see if there's a problem. Subjects with homocysteine levels over 9.47 micromol/L had a 2.3-fold risk increase in heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. Those with levels over 11.84 mmol/L had a 2.4-fold increase risk for death. PMID:19733705, 19521023
A second study gave more bad news. It found high homocysteine levels contribute to arterial stiffness and vascular inflammation. It can contribute to smaller LDL particle size. And it also causes higher levels of oxidized LDL and cytokines in men. These are all significant risk factors for heart disease. PMID:19893200
Homocysteine is an amino acid that's an integral part of your metabolism. Like cholesterol, your body needs it. However, in high levels, it can cause vascular damage. But your heart isn't the only thing at risk. A study in 2002 found that high levels of homocysteine (>14) doubled the risk of Alzheimer's. PMID:21063361, 11844848
So What Causes High Homocysteine Levels?
The main cause is insufficient vitamin B12. And low vitamin B12 levels can cause circulatory and neurological dysfunction. PMID:24618918
For this reason, I think everyone should have a homocysteine test to get a baseline level. My patient cut-off point is greater than 9.9. My own was about 9.8 until I took an injection of vitamin B12 and it promptly fell below 9. PMID:19521023
The key nutrients for proper homocysteine metabolism are vitamins:
Even heavy meat eaters can be deficient in vitamin B12. If your homocysteine level is high, please get a methylmalonic acid test (MMA). PMID:23583557 It is the best test for vitamin B12 activity. If it is high, you need more B12. A B12 injection is the best way to increase your levels. Please consult your integrative physician for this.
How To Reduce Homocysteine Levels?
Supplemental folic acid can reduce homocysteine levels and its associated vascular mortality. I recommend you take at least 400 mcg per day.
Author Robert Rowen is a pioneer in health care, having received his medical degree from University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.
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