BERGEN, NORWAY. Numerous studies have found a clear correlation between high blood levels of homocysteine and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. High homocysteine levels are particularly strong predictors of cardiovascular events or death in patients who also suffer from renal failure, coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus or venous thromboembolism. Case-control studies have found that homocysteine levels as little as five micromol/L above normal can increase cardiovascular disease risk by 20 to 30 per cent. Researchers at the University of Bergen strongly support the conclusion that a high homocysteine level is a potent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, notably atherosclerosis. They point to the fact that folic acid and vitamin B6 lower homocysteine levels and that several recent trials have shown that supplementation with folic acid and B6 can halt the progression of atherosclerosis and reduce the incidence of heart attacks.
A team of researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia and the Kalmar County Hospital
in Sweden questions whether moderately elevated homocysteine levels really are a risk factor for
cardiovascular disease or merely a marker for the disease. They suggest that atherosclerosis can impair
kidney function and this impairment can lead to higher homocysteine levels.
Dr. John Scott of Trinity College in Dublin provides an interesting commentary on the two opposing views,
but leans towards the conclusion that high homocysteine levels are indeed a causal factor in cardiovascular