By homocysteine we mean the chemical that is produced in the blood when methionine, an amino acid that is involved in the process of building protein, is broken down in our body. Until recently, the techniques to be able to measure these levels were very expensive and difficult to carry out. However, today we can easily calculate homocysteine values in the blood.
The important thing about this element is that it allows us to detect and prevent health problems such as heart attacks and thrombosis. We all have homocysteine in our blood, but when it builds up in excess – a condition known as hyperhomocysteinemia – it can irritate blood vessels and harden arteries.
In the following FastlyHealarticle we will explain everything you need to know about this amino acid, we will tell you what homocysteine is , its reference values and how to lower it when it is too high.
What is homocysteine in an analysis
As we have explained to you, hemocysteine is an amino acid that, when present in large quantities, can warn us of future coronary problems and thrombosis. That is why, on certain occasions, doctors may do this test to rule out or diagnose vitamin deficiencies. Next we will explain to you in which cases a blood test is usually done to know the levels of homocysteine:
- When it is suspected that the patient may suffer from a deficiency of folic acid or vitamin B12 . The risk groups are those who suffer symptoms of malnutrition, the elderly, alcoholics or people with drug addiction.
- In people who are at high risk of suffering a myocardial infarction or an incident of a cerebrovascular nature. This test can be ordered in people who have a family history of heart attacks with no preceding risk factors.
- Testing the blood or urine for homocysteine levels can be used to diagnose homocystinuria , a genetic disease with traits in common with Marfan syndrome .
Homocysteine: reference values
It becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to give homocysteine reference values that can function as a standard. The reality is that your results depend on so many different factors that there are not clear and valid results for everyone. On the one hand, sex, since men have higher levels than women, age also increases its levels, it depends on the characteristics of the patient, it must have one level or another.
However, if there is a classification to establish, more or less, what should be normal:
- Less than 12 mmol / L is considered normal .
- Between 13 and 60 mmol / L is considered moderately high .
- Between 60 and 100 mmol / L high .
- More than 100 mmol / L severely elevated .
High homocysteine: causes
In a healthy and normally functioning body, homocysteine must be transformed into other amino acids that the body can reuse. However, when homocysteine levels are very high, it is usually because that person is not consuming enough B vitamins so that the body can use homociestin again.
Among the main components the lack of which can cause hyperhomocysteinemia include folate -popularly known as folic acid-, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 . But these are not the only causes: genetic inheritance, psoriasis , kidney disease or hypothyroidism are other conditions that can alter homocysteine levels.
The consequences and risks of high homocysteine are usually focused on cardiovascular health, we will explain them below:
- Continued exposure of the arteries to high levels of homocysteine can eventually damage their lining .
- High homocysteine makes the blood clot easily. This greatly increases the likelihood that the blood vessels will become blocked by a clot. This thrombus , if it travels through the bloodstream, can cause, depending on where it gets stuck, pulmonary embolism, heart attack or cerebral embolism.
How to lower homocysteine
If after your blood test you have discovered high homocysteine, you can follow the following recommendations to lower homocysteine :
- Diet is essential to get all the vitamins your body needs to be able to reuse homocysteine. Vegetables – especially green leafy ones – and fruits can increase folic acid in your body.
- Some of the foods richest in folic acid are asparagus, cereals, legumes and spinach.
- To obtain vitamin B6 through your diet you must eat foods such as chicken, chickpeas, potatoes or cereals.
- Foods rich in vitamin B12 are dairy, liver, beef and fish.
- If, despite eating a diet rich in these foods, your levels do not drop, ask your doctor about whether it is possible to take a folic acid or vitamin supplement.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to What is homocysteine in blood , we recommend that you enter our category of Blood, heart and circulation .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.