Treatment of mild hyperhomocysteinemia in vascular disease patients.
Mild hyperhomocysteinemia is recognized as a risk factor for premature arteriosclerotic disease. A few vitamins and other substances have been reported to reduce blood homocysteine levels, but normalization of elevated blood homocysteine concentrations with any of these substances has not been reported. Therefore, we screened 421 patients suffering from premature peripheral or cerebral occlusive arterial disease by oral methionine loading tests for the presence of mild hyperhomocysteinemia. Thirty-three percent of patients with peripheral and 20% of patients with cerebral occlusive arterial disease were identified with mild hyperhomocysteinemia (14% of the men, 34% of the premenopausal women, and 26% of the postmenopausal women). Mildly hyperhomocysteinemic patients were administered vitamin B6 250 mg daily. After 6 weeks methionine loading tests were again assessed to evaluate the effect of treatment. Patients with nonnormalized homocysteine concentrations were further treated with vitamin B6 250 mg daily and/or folic acid 5 mg daily and/or betaine 6 g daily, solely or in any combination. Vitamin B6 treatment normalized the afterload homocysteine concentration in 56% of the treated patients (71% of the men, 45% of the premenopausal women, and 88% of the postmenopausal women). Further treatment resulted in a normalization of homocysteine levels in 95% of the remaining cases. Thus, mild hyperhomocysteinemia, which is frequently encountered in patients with premature arteriosclerotic disease, can be reduced to normal in virtually all cases by safe and simple treatment with vitamin B6, folic acid, and betaine, each of which is involved in methionine metabolism.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association