Dr Bindra's Homeopathy Clinic and Cardio Life Care

Source:  Dr Bindra's Homeopathy Clinic and Cardio Life Care    Tag:  homocystinuria diet


What is homocysteine? 

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced by the body, usually as a byproduct of consuming meat. Amino acids are naturally made products, which are the building blocks of all the proteins in the body.

Why is it important to monitor homocysteine levels?

Elevated levels of homocysteine (>10 micromoles/liter) in the blood may be associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation, and possibly Alzheimer's disease.
In 1969, Dr. Kilmer S. McCully reported that children born with a genetic disorder called homocystinuria, which causes the homocysteine levels to be very high, sometimes died at a very young age with advanced atherosclerosis in their arteries. However, it was not until the 1990's that the importance of homocysteine in heart disease and stroke was appreciated.

What are the possible symptoms or features of elevated homocysteine levels?

Theoretically, an elevated level of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia) is believed to cause narrowing and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This narrowing and hardening of the vessels is thought to occur through a variety of ways involving elevated homocysteine. The blood vessel narrowing in turn leads to diminished blood flow through the affected arteries.
Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood may also increase the tendency to excessive blood clotting. Blood clots inside the arteries can further diminish the flow of blood. The resultant lack of blood supply to the heart muscles may cause heart attacks, and the lack of blood supply to the brain causes strokes.

Elevated homocysteine levels also have been shown to be associated with formation of blood clots in veins (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism). The mechanism is complex, but it is similar to the way that they contribute to atherosclerosis. In some studies, even moderate levels of homocysteine level showed higher rates of repeated incidence of blood clot formation.

Does lowering homocysteine levels prevent heart attacks and strokes?

Currently, there is no direct proof that taking folic acid and B vitamins to lower homocysteine levels prevents heart attacks and strokes. However, in a large population study involving women, those who had the highest consumption of folic acid (usually in the form of multivitamins) had fewer heart attacks than those who consumed the least amount of folic acid. In this study, the association between dietary intake of folate and vitamin B6 and risk of heart disease was more noticeable than between dietary intake of vitamin B12 and heart disease, which was minimal.
Many other observational studies have been performed to assess the effect of folate and the other B vitamins on heart disease. Most of these studies have concluded that oral intake of folate has been associated to lower risk of heart disease, possibly because due to lowering of homocysteine levels. The relation between oral intake of vitamin B12 and B6 and heart disease was not as obvious in many of these studies.

In one study, it was concluded that even in people with elevated homocysteine levels due to genetic reasons, oral intake of folate and possibly the other B vitamins was related to lower incidence of heart  disease.

Most of these data, however, are obtained from observational studies rather than purely controlled scientific data. Therefore, it is important to mention that despite these studies suggesting an association between the intake of these vitamins and the lower incidence of heart disease, in general, there is no compelling clinical evidence to treat hyperhomocysteinemia other than homocystinuria (the severe genetic form) in regards to heart disease, stroke, or blood clots.

(Ref.: MedicineNet)