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More evidence for the role of homocysteine in heart disease

Two more studies add to the growing weight of evidence that high levels of an amino acid called homocysteine increase the risk of heart disease. Increasing levels of B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 in the diet can lower levels of homocysteine and may reduce the risk of heart disease.

According to a report in the American Heart Association’s journal, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, for every 10 percent increase in the blood level of homocysteine, heart disease risk goes up by 10 percent.

In another study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association researchers at the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin, Ireland compared 750 people with narrowing of the arteries, with 800 healthy people. They measured homocysteine, folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 levels.

They found that those in the top 20 percent for homocysteine level had over twice the risk of atherosclerosis than the other 80 percent. A small group of people who took vitamins had a lower risk of disease compared to those who didn't.

The authors recommend undertaking randomized controlled clinical trials of folic acid and vitamin B6 in the prevention of heart disease.