Homocysteine Levels Testing

Check Your Homocysteine Levels at Unilab Express

A Homocysteine test measures the levels of Homocysteine, an amino acid, in a person’s blood.

High levels of this substance are linked to an elevated risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

It may also promote damage to the arteries and encourage blood clots. This test may be recommended for patients with a family history of heart disease, as well as those who have suffered from a stroke or deep vein thrombosis, which is a condition caused by blood clots. A Homocysteine test is a diagnostic tool that can help a doctor evaluate the patient’s risk for medical problems.

Homocysteine Risk To Blood Vessels
Homocysteine damages the lining of blood vessel walls, causing them to thicken and subsequently narrow. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Homocysteine increases the risk of excessive blood clotting.
Homocysteine Risk To Brain
The presence of blood clots contributes to the chance of a stroke but there are other ways Homocysteine affects the brain. A study published by Sudha, Beiser et al. in the February 2002 issue of the New England of Medicine stated that "an increased plasma Homocysteine level is a strong, independent risk factor for the development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease." In the May 2009 issue of the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Oulhaj, Refsum et al. stated that cognitive abilities in patients with Alzheimer's disease declined more rapidly when their level of Homocysteine was high.
Homocysteine and Vitamins
Homocysteine Tests diagnose vitamin B deficiencies, which can cause fatigue and weakness. A Homocysteine test may also be recommended for malnourished patients, alcohol and drug addicts, and the elderly, because these patients may be less able to absorb vitamin B12. Numerous studies have shown the powerful effects B vitamins have on Homocysteine. In one study of 750 subjects and 800 controls, plasma Homocysteine concentration dropped as blood levels of folate, cobalamin (Vitamin B12) and pyridoxine rose.
Another important Homocysteine-regulating nutrient is betaine, which is essential in recycling Homocysteine back to methionine.
Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease
The results of more than 80 studies indicate that even moderately elevated levels of Homocysteine in the blood increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, though the mechanism by which Homocysteine increases the disease risk remains the subject of a great deal of research. The amount of Homocysteine in the blood is regulated by at least three vitamins: folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 (diagram). Some evidence indicates that vitamin B12 deficiency is a major cause of elevated Homocysteine levels in people over the age of 60. Two studies found blood methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels to be elevated in more than 60% of elderly individuals with elevated Homocysteine levels. An elevated MMA level in conjunction with elevated Homocysteine, in the absence of impaired kidney function, suggests either a vitamin B12 deficiency or a combined B12 and folate deficiency.

Too much Homocysteine can be very destructive to your veins and arteries. Toxic levels of this amino acid in your blood can lead to stroke, heart disease and even Alzheimer's. Vitamin B12 helps keep your Homocysteine at a safe level in your body.
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