HOMOCYSTEINE BLOOD TESTS
What is homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced normally by the body, usually as a byproduct of consuming meat. But when it is not broken down properly, it will elevate in the blood, increasing the risk for atherosclerosis, heart attack, strokes, and possibly Alzheimer's disease.
Why should homocysteine levels be monitored?
Elevated levels of homocysteine, more than micromoles/liter is in the blood are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and possibly Alzheimer's disease.
In 1969, Dr. Kilmer S. McCully, M.D. discovered homocysteine. It wasn't until 1990's that the medical establishment began to accept his work, although some medical doctor's today do not. The Ontario OHIP Medicare Plan does cover the cost of this simple blood test. Read his book.
How does homocysteine increase the risk of heart attack and stroke?
Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood can cause the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. When the arteries are narrowed, blood flow can be restricted increasing the tendency to excessive blood clotting. Then blood clots inside the arteries further diminish the flow of blood and oxygen. This lack of blood supply to the heart muscles can cause a heart attack. Also it can cause a lack of blood flow to the brain causing a stroke.
What causes elevated homocysteine?
Homocysteine is normally transformed into methionine and cysteine by the help of folic acid, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6. When there insufficient amounts of these nutrients in the blood, homocysteine will not be broken down so accumulates in the blood.
How can homocysteine levels be lowered?
Cereals that are fortified with folic acid can certainly help. Supplements of folic acid, and lesser amounts of Vitamins B12 and B6 can break down homocysteine.
How much is usually recommended?
Folic acid 400-1000 mcg
A sublingual tablet is the most easily absorbed.
Consult your health professional for amounts that are appropriate for you specifically whether recommended for maintenance or for therapeutic reasons.
There are several factors involved in assessing heart disease. Serum Homocysteine is a valuable test too, but not necessarily alone by itself. Elevated homocysteine levels should definitely be taken into consideration by your physician, along with other tests and risk factors.