Folic acid may protect from heart attack and stroke

August 29, 2000 in Heart Health, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Folic acid may protect from heart attack and stroke

According to researchers from the King's College in London, England, the B vitamin folic acid significantly reduces blood homocysteine levels and systolic blood pressure in patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that everyone produces, but normally we convert it to other harmless amino acids with the help of three B vitamins: folate (folic acid), B6 and B12. Homocysteine can accumulate in the blood when this conversion does not occur rapidly enough due to an inherited genetic defect or when there is a deficiency of the B vitamins. High levels of homocysteine can damage blood vessel walls and promote the build-up of cholesterol, leading to blocked arteries.

The scientists gave five-milligrams of folic acid each day for six weeks to ten patients who had experienced a heart attack or stroke. After folic acid supplementation, homocysteine levels decreased significantly. Systolic blood pressure also declined significantly, while heart rate remained the same. "We are probably going to see an increase in vitamin supplementation as a tool to provide heart protection. I think it is a very exciting area," Dr. Mangoni, the lead researcher commented.

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