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Homocysteine (cont.)

What are the possible symptoms and signs of elevated homocysteine levels?

Elevated homocysteine levels in the body do not cause any symptoms.

  • Elevated homocysteine levels affect the interior lining of blood vessels in the body, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis or narrowing of blood vessels. This can result in early heart attack and stroke.
  • There is a relationship between the levels of homocysteine in the body and the size of the carotid arteries that supply the brain with blood; the higher homocysteine level, the narrower or more stenosed the carotid artery.
  • The risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism may also be linked to elevated homocysteine levels in the body.
  • There may be a relationship between elevated homocysteine levels and broken bones, especially in the elderly.
  • Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia may be more frequently seen in patients with increased homocysteine in the blood.
  • In infants who have the genetic condition homocystinuria, the inherited abnormalities affect the body's metabolism of homocysteine to cysteine. This may result in dislocation of the lens in the eye, sunken chest, Marfan-type appearance (long thin body type), mental retardation, and seizures. Neonatal strokes may also be seen with high homocysteine levels.
  • In pregnancy, homocysteine levels tend to decrease. Elevated homocysteine levels may be associated with some fetal abnormalities and with potential blood vessel problems in the placenta, causing abruption. There may also be an association with pre-eclampsia.

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