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7 September 1999 Annals of Internal Medicine Tip Sheet

Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM), an organization of more than 115,000 physicians trained in internal medicine. The following highlights are not intended to substitute for articles as sources of information. For a copy of an article, call 1-800-523-1546, ext. 2656 or 215-351-2656.

A New Medical Frontier?

Lowering Your Homocysteine Level May Help Reduce Risk for Heart Disease

It's well known that stopping smoking and lowering cholesterol level and high blood pressure help prevent cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that a high level of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood is associated with cardiovascular risk. Other studies have shown that high homocysteine levels can be lowered by simple, inexpensive therapy with folic acid as well as with vitamins B6 and B12. Does lowering the homocysteine level therefore reduce risk for heart disease? Seven large randomized clinical trials currently in progress may answer this question. Meanwhile, seven selections in the Sept. 7 issue of Annals explore what is known about the tantalizing relationship between homocysteine, vitamins and cardiovascular risk.

An editorial concludes that high-risk persons with elevated plasma homocysteine levels should probably take folic acid supplements, and the rest of us should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, good sources of folic acid, "just as our parents always told us."


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