Hyperhomocysteinemia and high blood pressure as risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease
Hyperhomocysteinemia increases blood pressure levels and can cause an increase in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease even in the absence of other coinciding risk factors (cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, smoking). It is therefore considered an independent risk factor, as even values above 10-12 micromoles per liter increase the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and myocardial infarction.
Hyperhomocysteinemia is an excessive concentration of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid whose metabolism is regulated by enzymes such as folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. A deficiency in these vitamins can lead to a buildup in homocysteine, causing damage to the blood vessels. We speak of hyperhomocysteinemia when plasmatic levels of homocysteine reach excessively high concentrations, namely above 12 micromoles per liter.
Elevated levels of this amino acid can negatively affect the nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the bones, mostly due to the increase in production of free radicals.
For this reason, hyperhomocysteinemia is considered a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, neurological diseases (it has been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s), and bone fractures of osteoporotic nature. The daily consumption of 0.5 to 5 mg of folic acid can reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood by 25%, and when combined with vitamin B12, it can further reduce the levels by about 7%. These indications are recommended for subjects with a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases due to smoking, hypertension, male gender, obesity (particularly abdominal), sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol and diabetes.
The scientific articles below:
- Homocysteine and risk of developing hypertension in men (Journal of Human Hypertension (2006) 20, 631–634. doi:10.1038/sj.jhh.1002052; published online 25 May 2006) http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v20/n8/full/1002052a.html
- Hydrogen sulfide in pharmacology and medicine – An update (Pharmacological Reports Volume 67, Issue 3, June 2015, Pages 647–658) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1734114015000092
- Hydrogen sulfide as a potent cardiovascular protective agent (Clinica Chimica ActaVolume 437, 1 November 2014, Pages 78–87) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000989811400299X
- Subclinical carotid artery disease and plasma homocysteine levels in patients with hypertension (Journal of the American Society of Hypertension Volume 9, Issue 3, March 2015, Pages 167–175) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1933171114009188