Health Information

B Vitamins Can Reduce Homocysteine Blood Levels but Do Not Appear to Reduce Heart Event and Death

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer. There are many factors that can play a role in the development and progression of the disease. Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood that has been connected to increase chance of developing heart disease. While this is known to be a factor, treatment is less certain. Research has shown that B-vitamins can be effective in decreasing levels of homocysteine in the blood but it is not clear if this will reduce the risk of heart disease.

The Haukeland University Hospital in Norway conducted a study to try to find a connection between B vitamins for homocysteine levels and heart disease or death. The study published in JAMA , found that treatment with vitamin B or folic acid did lower homocysteine blood levels but it did not effect heart events or death.

About the Study

The randomized double blind controlled study followed 3096 patients after undergoing a coronary angiography . The patients were randomly assigned to one of four groups based on the daily oral treatment of:

The doses for all were folic acid (0.8mg), B12 (0.4 mg), and B6 (40 mg). Patients were followed for death, heart attacks , hospitalization for unstable angina , and non fatal strokes . There were no significant differences between groups in the rate of any death, cardiovascular death, or heart attack. The homocysteine lowering therapy was linked with a decreased risk of stroke but the studies author did not believe this to be a true effect. The treatment groups also had an increase in hospitalization for unstable angina.

The study lasted 7 years but was ended early because of participants concern after negative results from another study reviewing homocysteine-lowering therapy were released. There were methodological limitations which mean that the results may not be fully reliable.

How Does This Affect You?

Homocysteine is just one factor in the development of heart disease. Follow basic guidelines for a healthy heart including maintaining health weight, blood pressure , and cholesterol levels , get regular physical activity and eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. If you smoke, quit .

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for heart disease. Get regular check-ups to monitor potential risk factors.

  • American Dietetic Association

    http://www.eatright.org/

  • National Women's Health Information Center

    http://www.womenshealth.gov/

  • Palmer JR, Boggs DA, Krishman S, Hu FB, Singer M, Rosenberg L. Sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in African American women. Arch Intern Med . 2008 Jul 28;168(14):1487-92.