High Homocysteine Levels Could Lead to a Heart Attack

High Levels Homocysteine Could
Give You A Heart Attack

Gene Millen, Author - Revised 5/1/15

High homocysteine may be a greater
heart attack risk than ldl cholesterol.

For several decades, cholesterol has been the demon of heart disease. Now it appears that cholesterol may have less to do with heart disease than most people think. A strong case has emerged that the villain in heart disease is a toxic amino acid called homocysteine.

What is homocysteine?
This gets a little technical but bear with me. Homocysteine is a by-product of methionine metabolism. If the right cofactors are present, it will eventually convert to cysteine and other beneficial compounds. If the cofactors are lacking, it will build up to toxic levels.

Homocysteine is "heart attack city".
Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes. This  narrowing leads to diminished blood flow through the affected arteries.

Data from a study on healthy U.S. physicians with no prior history of heart disease shows that highly elevated homocysteine levels are associated with a more than three-fold increase in the risk of heart attack over a five-year period.

This finding was published in 1992 in JAMA as part of the Physicians' Health Study. The study included 14,916 male physicians; it is the same one that showed the benefits of aspirin. The Framingham Heart Study and other studies have confirmed that elevated homocysteine is an independent risk factor for heart disease.

Why don't we hear more about homocysteine?
For one thing the statin drugs do not reduce homocysteine and the cure is a very simple and inexpensive one. Follow the money.

Is homocysteine in your genes?
Dr. Rene Malinow of the Oregon Health Sciences Center concluded that some cases of elevated homocysteine could be the result of an inherited abnormality. This would be one explanation for premature coronary artery disease that runs in families. Mostly, however, elevated homocysteine levels can usually be traced to inadequate or improper nutrition.

High homocysteine levels increase the tendency to excessive blood clotting.
Blood clots inside the arteries further diminish the flow of blood. The resultant lack of blood supply to the heart muscles causes heart attacks, and the lack of blood supply to the brain causes strokes.

How can homocysteine levels be lowered?
The consumption of folic acid supplements and vitamins B6 and B12, can lower blood homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is chemically transformed into methionine and cysteine with the help of folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. Therefore, insufficient amounts of these vitamins in the body can hamper the natural breakdown of homocysteine which can cause homocysteine to accumulate in the blood.

Does lowering homocysteine levels prevent heart attacks?
In a large population study involving women, those who had the highest consumption of folic acid (usually in the form of multivitamins) had lower homocysteine and fewer heart attacks than those who consumed the least amount of folic acid.

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