Folic Acid and Vitamin
B did not Reduce Subsequent Heart Attack Risk - Two Studies Found
Supplements Lowered Homocysteine Levels Not Risk
Combination Folic Acid with Vitamin B supplements may not lower
cardiovascular risk, according to a new studies in the New England
Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Researchers announced at the American
College of Cardiology, in Atlanta that lowering homocysteine levels by
supplementation has no effect in preventing heart attacks, and may even
trigger them. The studies focused on people that have already had heart
attacks or suffer from diabetes and other ailments.
There were two studies in the NEJM concerning the supplements. One of
the studies indicated that there may be a "marginally significant"
decrease in stroke risk after supplementation. This may not be worth the
risk though. The authors of one of the studies (Homocysteine Lowering
and Cardiovascular Events after Acute Myocardial Infarction) concluded
that “Treatment with B vitamins did not lower the risk of recurrent
cardiovascular disease after acute myocardial infarction. A harmful
effect from combined B vitamin treatment was suggested. Such treatment
should therefore not be recommended.”
Homocysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, has already been linked to
increased risk of premature coronary artery disease, stroke and
thromboembolism, even among people with normal cholesterol levels.
Previous studies have found that abnormal homocysteine levels contribute
to atherosclerosis by creating a direct toxic effect that damages the
cell lining inside the arteries, by interference with clotting factors,
and by oxidizing the low-density lipoproteins (LDL). This has brought
about studies to learn how to lower homocysteine levels.
In the new Norwegian Vitamin (NORVIT) trial, researchers randomly
assigned 3,749 men and women who have had heart attacks to receive folic
acid, vitamins B6 and B12, or a placebo. Surprisingly, even though the
homocysteine levels were lowered an average of 27 percent over 3 years,
it did not lower the risk of another heart attack, or death from a
subsequent heart attack.
The second article, Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) 2 study,
included more than 5,500 patients who had diabetes or vascular disease.
These patients received folic acid, vitamins B12 and B6, or a placebo.
This second study produced similar results. The homocysteine levels
dropped significantly among those taking the supplements, but their risk
of death from heart disease or heart attacks was not lower over five
years. This is the study that showed a slight reduction in stroke among
people taking the supplements. The researchers concluded: “combined
daily administration of 2.5 mg [milligrams] of folic acid, 50 mg of
vitamin B6, and 1 mg of vitamin B12 for five years had no beneficial
effects on major vascular events in a high-risk population with vascular
disease." They did not support the combined vitamin treatment either.
Experts point out that the findings may not be the same for healthy
people. According to Annette Dickinson, PhD, of the Council for
Responsible Nutrition (CRN), “While these studies contribute importantly
to the research base, they have limited application for the general
population. These studies did not test whether B vitamins used by
healthy people can help keep them healthy. Instead, they looked at
whether B vitamins can treat or reverse heart disease in people who
already have it. Vitamins should not be expected to perform like
drugs—their greatest promise is in prevention.” CRN was founded in
1973 and represents the dietary supplement industry.
Dickinson said that it is hard to undo the damage caused by heart
disease, and that patients should not rely on B-vitamins to treat
disease. There are at least ten clinical trials are now on-going or
have been recently completed looking at whether B vitamins can reduce
the risk of Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD).
By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer
Books on Heart Disease
Keywords and misspellings:
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