Hyperhomocysteinemia is the terminology used to describe high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood. Studies have shown that too much homocysteine in the blood (plasma) is related to a higher risk of stroke, peripheral vascular disease (fatty deposits in peripheral arteries), not to mention coronary heart disease.
Blood in veins and especially arteries are more likely to clot as a result of higher levels of homocysteine, although researchers do not yet know why. What they do know is that a poor diet, low in B vitamins, causes a build-up of homocysteine in the bloodstream, which is not good for our bodies. In a article posted Nov. 24, 2008 on the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation web site, Dr. Angela Devlin of the University of British Columbia, thinks that homocysteine may affect the ability of our genes to send information to the liver about how to process fat so it doesn’t end up staying in our bloodstream. Increased amounts of fat can circulate in blood vessels which may heighten the risk of clotting.
Dr. Devlin became excited about the advances in understanding of the interactive effects of dietary components with our genes. She feels this relatively new knowledge will support the development of preventative measures, at least as it applies to heart and stroke prevention, and quite possibly can be carried over in addressing portal hypertension.
If Dr. Devlin’s research is correct, this study will uncover a key mechanism by which our diet interacts with our genes. This could lead to better recommendations for diets that can help prevent heart disease and stroke, as well as potentially leading to genetic therapies to help those at the highest risk.
Not wanting to pour water on Dr. Devlin’s research, I did manage to find a research article posted on The Journal of the American Society of Hematology which contained medical terminology that mostly was hard for me to understand, but ended with an interesting statement. As was written, “The results of our study do not show that homocysteine lowering by B vitamin supplementation prevents recurrent venous thrombosis”. The research article was titled, “Homocysteine lowering by B vitamins and the secondary prevention of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial”. Click the link above to read the article in detail.
When first diagnosed with portal hypertension, my hematologist recommended I take Vitamin B50 to combat higher homocysteine levels. Despite what I have recently learned for and against, I will err on the side of caution and continue the vitamin protocol in hopes it is working to combat high homocysteine levels thus keep me ticking much longer! Countless studies have also shown that diet is an important component in one’s overall health, and on that note I try to stay on track by eating healthy foods along with taking my vitamins.
In summation, many will also agree that genetics play a huge role in an individual’s health condition, and how that person responds to treatment. On that note it be interesting to see what new developments may arise for treating hyperhomocysteinemia, and how it will affect portal hypertension.
At some point in the near future I hope to address this information with my hematologist and post his thoughts on this blog? In the meantime, your story or comments concerning this subject are always welcome.