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What do your homocysteine levels mean?

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Quick Answer

Elevated levels of homocysteine is related the early development of diseases of the heart and blood vessels, according to WebMD. Damaged blood vessels can lead to atherosclerosis — hardening of the arteries — or blood clot formation in the blood.

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Full Answer

Elevated levels of homocysteine are independent risk factors for developing heart disease. Homocysteine is an amino acid, a basic component of proteins, found in blood, and elevated levels are mainly from to the consumption of red meat. Another contributing factor to higher levels is renal disease, according to WebMD.

Higher levels indicate lower levels of vitamins in the blood, such as folate, B-6 and B-12. Vitamin deficiency is treated with prescribing vitamins to the patient, however, it has been proven that reducing the levels of homocysteine by taking vitamins does not decrease the associated risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease, states WebMD. Patients can prevent elevated levels of homocysteine by taking B vitamin supplements or eating foods that naturally contain them.

Testing for homocysteine is not regularly prescribed by physicians because homocysteine tests are expensive and often not approved for coverage by health insurance providers. Availability of the homocysteine test is also a barrier to it being a universal recommendation from physicians, says WebMD.

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