Doctor's Notes on Homocysteine Blood Test
Homocysteine is an amino acid; normal levels in the blood vary between 4-15 micromoles/liter. There are no signs or symptoms of elevated, normal or low levels; however, high levels have been associated with heart disease, cardiovascular disease, angina, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, miscarriage, premature birth, maternal thrombosis and osteoporosis. The blood test is used to detect high levels to help diagnose infants and young adults with a family history of the problem and in individuals with medical conditions like stroke or heart attacks with no other risk factors, eye lens dislocations, mental retardation or Marfan syndrome (genetic connective tissue disorder).
Causes of homocysteine levels (high levels) are influenced by genetics and diet. For example, vitamins B 6 and B 12 help regulate homocysteine levels while stress and caffeine may raise its level. Genetics may play a role as evidenced by a rare, inherited disease (homocystinuria) where homocysteine is found elevated in the urine of infants leading to eye, bone and other abnormalities.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.