Brian Henry or Trish Moreis
AHA News Media Relations
Omni Rosen Hotel
NR 98-4846 (StrokeConf/Vitamin)
ORLANDO, Feb. 7 -- A trio of B vitamins given to a group of people who had suffered a stroke reduced their homocysteine levels and improved biochemical "markers" in their blood that indicate injury to artery walls -- damage that can lead to strokes.
The biochemical markers are homocysteine, a natural byproduct of the body's metabolism of protein and other nutrients, and thrombomodulin, produced by the injured cells lining blood vessels. When these endothelial cells are injured, blood clots can form. Thrombomodulin is produced by the body to inhibit clots, which can block vessels to the brain and heart, resulting in heart attack or stroke.
The research was presented here today at the American Heart Association's 23rd International Joint Conference on Stroke and Cerebral Circulation.
"A short-term vitamin intervention can reverse the homocysteine-mediated adverse effects on blood-vessel cells," says Richard F. Macko, M.D., of the Baltimore Veterans Administration Medical Center and assistant professor of neurology and geriatrics at the University of Maryland. "It is remarkable that only three months of vitamin therapy can produce these kinds of changes."
High levels of homocysteine, which result from the metabolism of the amnio acid methionine, are known from laboratory studies to damage blood vessels.
Scientists reported significant reduction in these two biochemical markers in 27 patients who received a vitamin supplement with folic acid, B-6, and B-12 added to it, compared to 23 patients who got the vitamin preparation without the B vitamins.