Because studies have linked high homocysteine levels with an increased risk of heart attack, a blood test for homocysteine may be used to screen people who have a family history of coronary artery disease but no other known risk factors.
High homocysteine levels can also indicate a deficiency of vitamin B and folic acid, especially in people over 65. Although folic acid supplements can reduce homocysteine levels, there is no evidence that they reverse atherosclerosis or prevent heart attacks.
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is the result of the metabolism of methionine—an amino acid that must be derived from the diet since the body cannot produce it. In healthy cells, homocysteine is quickly converted to other products by vitamins B6, B12 and folate. As a result, high levels of homocysteine indicate a deficiency of those vitamins.
Understanding Your Results
Although 4 to 14 mmole/L is considered the normal range, results can vary with the laboratory. Your doctor will discuss the results with you and interpret what they may mean for your risk and treatment.
Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011
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