Folic acid role in heart disease - further evidence needed

Related tags Cardiovascular disease Heart disease Folic acid

Despite the growing view that vitamin B and folic acid supplements
could protect against the onset of heart disease, researchers from
Australia say they have found no link between blood folate levels
and death from heart disease in a large cohort study.

Vitamin B and folic acid supplements may not be effective in preventing the onset of heart disease, report researchers from the University of Western Australia.

The team set out to test recent evidence that folic acid and other related B-vitamins can prevent the accumulation of a high blood level of homocysteine, a risk factor in heart disease and strokes.

However they found no link between folate and B-12 concentrations in the blood of study participants and death from coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at the University of Ulsters recently reported that high homocysteine levels, similar to the risk of high cholesterol on heart health, could be lowered through increased intake of folic acid. According to the researchers Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin B-6 can prevent a build up of homcysteine, helping to protect against heart disease or strokes.

But the Australian team say evidence linking serum or dietary folate and B vitamin levels to incident cardiovascular disease is inconclusive.

They studied data from the 1969 Busselton health survey with follow up of 29 years. Data from around 1400 men and 1500 women aged 20 to 90 years, who were alive more than three years after their participation in the survey, was studied. Seventy-eight per cent had no cardiovascular disease at the initial survey.

The team measured hazard ratios for fatal coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease in men and women according to baseline concentrations of serum and red cell folate and serum vitamin B-12.

They found that 213 men and 159 women died from coronary heart disease, and 342 men and 302 women died from cardiovascular disease. Serum and red cell folate concentrations showed a moderate positive correlation but otherwise serum and red cell folate and serum B-12 concentrations were not strongly correlated with each other or with other standard risk factors, they report in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal​.

After age and standard risk factors were adjusted for, there was no independent association between folate and B-12 concentrations and death from coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease in the full cohort or the subcohort with no cardiovascular disease at baseline.

Researchers concluded that the findings do not support the hypothesis that lower folate and B-12 concentrations increase the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease in a general population.

They concluded: "Vitamin therapy to lower homocysteine concentrations should not be routinely recommended in the general population until the benefit is proved by controlled clinical trials."

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