FHN Complementary Medicine Monthly Newsletter February 2003
February is heart health month. So let's look at homocystiene as a marker for heart health.
In the past 10 years scientists have found high levels of homocystiene to be a risk factor for coronary artery disease and other vascular diseases. Scientists have concluded that homocystiene is up to 40 times more predictive than cholesterol in assessing cardiovascular disease risk.
Homocysteine is formed by the body as a naturally synthesized byproduct of methionine metabolim. Homocysteines like cholesterol is needed by the body and after it is used is broken down for other uses such as ATP and cysteine. If it does not break down and enters the bloodstream it will eventually attack the blood vessel walls causing scarring and laying the foundation for plaque and platelet formation, heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular disease. When homocysteine accumulates it causes oxidation of fats and free radicals causing platelets to stick together and free radical damage to the artery walls.
If certain enzymes, and catalysts are not present homocysteine cannot be properly metabolized by the body. The absence of these enzymes may be due to genetic defects or more often due to nutrient deficiencies such as B-6, B-12, and folic acid. For those who do not possess a genetic defect for homocysteine breakdown, supplementation with the deficient nutrients seen with elevated homocystiene may be encouraged. People with low levels of B vitamins and folic acid are smokers and those who use birth control. Both are linked to high homocysteine levels and heart disease. Birth control pills deplete vitamin B-6 and smokers generally have low levels of folic acid and vitamin B-12.
We highly recommend that homocystiene be checked during your cardiovascular profile….and if necessary start supplementing the B vits.
Drs Glenn and Julie Smith