Central Kentucky Cardiology

Homocysteine and Heart Disease

High homocysteine levels can be dangerous to your health.

The relationship between increased homocysteine and heart disease is well established in the medical community. Yet unlike the other three predictors of heart disease, i.e. cholesterol, triglycerides and C Reactive Protein, homocysteine levels are influenced by what you DON'T eat rather than what you do eat.

Approximately 10% of coronary deaths can be attributed to high levels of homocysteine in the blood.

What is homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an abnormal protein that is created when a specific amino acid called methionine is metabolized. In most people homocysteine is quickly cleared out of the arteries and therefore does not create a problem. However, for some people homocysteine is not efficiently cleared out and can pose significant health risks.

What causes elevated homocysteine levels in the blood?

Studies have shown that high levels of homocysteine are caused by a lack of nutrients in the diet, particularly the B group of vitamins. Without these essential vitamins your body is unable to produce the enzymes necessary to remove homocysteine efficiently from your blood. Homocysteine will cause damage to your arteries when present in high concentrations - hence the link between homocysteine and heart disease.

How can you treat homocysteine and lower your risk?

A lack of B Vitamins leads to elevated homocysteine levels which is why high homocysteine and vegetarian diets are directly related. Fortunately the situation is easily treatable. In the late 60's Dr. Kilmer McCully determined through extensive research that taking adequate amounts of folic acid (vitamin B9), along with vitamins B6 and B12 your levels of homocysteine will normalize.

What should your homocysteine levels be?

The normal level of homocysteine in your blood should be up to 15 micro mol/L. This is level of homocysteine in the average healthy person.

The optimal level of homocysteine in your blood would be under 7 micro mol/L.

Make sure you get a homocysteine test as part of your next visit to the doctor, or on your own at a licensed medical facility. A homocysteine test along with the three other blood tests we discuss on this site, will indicate whether or not you are at risk of developing heart disease.

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