AbstractBACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: In spite of the large number of reports showing that hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis and arterial occlusive disease, this metabolite of the methionine pathway is measured in relatively few laboratories and its importance is not fully appreciated. Recent data strongly suggest that mild HHcy is also involved in the pathogenesis of venous thromboembolic disease. The aim of this paper is to analyze the most recent advances in this field. EVIDENCE AND INFORMATION SOURCES: The material examined in the present review includes articles and abstracts published in journals covered by the Science Citation Index and Medline. In addition the authors of the present article have been working in the field of mild HHcy as cause of venous thromboembolic disease. STATE OF ART AND PERSPECTIVES: The studies examined provide very strong evidence supporting the role of moderate HHcy in the development of premature and/or recurrent venous thromboembolic disease. High plasma homocysteine levels are also a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis in the general population. Folic acid fortification of food has been proposed as a major tool for reducing coronary artery disease mortality in the United States. Vitamin supplementation may also reduce recurrence of venous thromboembolic disease in patients with HHcy. At the present time, however, the clinical efficacy of this approach has not been tested. In addition, the bulk of evidence indicates that fasting total homocysteine determinations can identify up to 50% of the total population of hyperhomocysteinemic subjects. Patients with isolated methionine intolerance may benefit from vitamin B6 supplementation. Homocysteine-lowering vascular disease prevention trials are urgently needed. Such controlled studies, however, should not focus exclusively on fasting homocysteine determinations and folic acid monotherapy.
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Vol. 82 No. 2 (1997): March, 1997 : Articles
Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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