There has been a lot of talk lately about a compound called homocysteine and its relationship to heart disease.
Homocysteine is a common amino acid (one of the building blocks that make up proteins) found in the blood and is acquired mostly from eating meat. High levels of homocysteine are related to the early development of heart and blood vessel disease. In fact, it is considered an independent risk factor for heart disease. High homocysteine is associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, and folate and renal disease. Research has shown, however, that reducing your homocysteine levels with vitamins does not reduce the risk of heart disease.
"Does your bra really go up that high?" the TSA officer asked, running her hands along my chest. My boyfriend, Adam, and I were headed for a romantic getaway, and being held at airport security wasn't on our itinerary. "I have a pacemaker. That's a scar, not my bra," I said. "You're too young for that," she said.
While I'm not the only 26-year-old with a pacemaker, I'm the only one most security officers have seen. Of the pacemakers installed yearly, 84% are for people older than age 65. Only 6%...
How Does Homocysteine Increase Heart Disease Risk?
Doctors aren't sure how homocysteine increases the risk of heart and blood vessel disease but there appears to be a link between high homocysteine levels and damage to the arteries, causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and the formation of blood clots.
Do I Need to Have My Homocysteine Level Checked?
Currently, there is no universal recommendation for checking homocysteine levels in everyone. The test is still relatively expensive, isn't widely available, and is rarely covered by insurance.
Can High Homocysteine Levels Be Prevented?
High-risk patients with high homocysteine levels should increase their intake of B-vitamins in their diet. These vitamins can be found in a wide variety of fruits, green, leafy vegetables, and grain products fortified with folic acid.