Mike Leidig
Phone: + 43 - 1 - 811 40 - 319
Tue, 28.01.2003
pte20030128061 Health/Medicine, Science/Technology
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Homocysteine linked to heart disease
Austrian study shows dangerous levels in third of population

Bad Radkersburg (pte061/28.01.2003/13:11) - Doctors from Bad Radkersburg hospital in southern Austria have discovered that one in three people in Austria have dangerously high levels of homocysteine, a key body chemical that has been linked with heart and circulatory disease.

This figure is much higher than the previous estimate that one in ten Austrians have raised homocysteine levels.

The head of the study, Dr Bernhard Zirm, said that he believed the findings of his study were applicable to many European countries, especially those with high stroke and heart and circulatory disease death rates.

"We were not surprised to find that many people had high levels of homocysteine because half of all the deaths in Austria are due to heart and circulatory disease and homocysteine has been associated with these diseases. However, we were shocked to find it was as many as one in three," Dr Zirm said.

He said that homocysteine was especially strongly linked with arterioscelerosis and deep vein thrombosis.

Raised homocysteine levels are caused by deficiencies in vitamin B6 and B12 and in folic acid, he said.

"The lower the folic acid and vitamin B6 and B12 in a subject's diet, the higher their level of homocysteine," Zirm said.

"Our study underlines how important a healthy lifestyle and nourishing food rich in vitamin folic acid is," he said.

The team analysed data from 528 people aged between 20 and 75 years old, who were living in the Bad Radkersburg area.

The study also found a clear link between the age of subjects and homocysteine levels with older age groups having higher levels of the chemical.

"We found that 31 per cent of the study group had hyperhomocysteine anaemia with concentrations of more than 11.7 micromole per litre. While only 11 per cent of the subjects between 20 and 40 years had high levels of homocysteine, as many as 56 per cent of those who were between 60 and 75 had high levels," he said.

Zirm says that he expects the second phase of his study in which patients at a high risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases will be treated with folic acid folic acid and vitamin B supplements to be completed in the autumn.

Submitter: pressetext.austria
Contact: Mike Leidig
Phone: + 43 - 1 - 811 40 - 319