Studies highlight global risks of vascular disease, probe creative new treatments

ATLANTA, GA (March 12, 2006) -- Patients with a build-up of plaque in arteries in the heart, brain and leg face a high risk of major cardiovascular complications. Researchers worldwide are responding to that threat by gathering comprehensive data and developing innovative new therapies, according to studies presented today at the American College of Cardiology's 55th Annual Scientific Session in Atlanta, Ga. ACC.06 is the premier cardiovascular medical meeting, bringing together more than 30,000 cardiologists to further breakthroughs in cardiovascular medicine.

"These new studies help us not only to understand the scope of the problem, but also to evaluate the effectiveness of new therapies for atherosclerotic disease, wherever it occurs in the body," said George A. Beller, M.D., F.A.C.C., University of Virginia Health Center.

Homocysteine Lowering in Stable Chronic Vascular Disease: The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE)-2 Trial

High blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Treatment with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 can reduce homocysteine levels by 25 percent to 30 percent, but the clinical benefits of vitamin supplements have been uncertain. The HOPE-2 study has taken steps to determine whether reducing homocysteine levels also reduces the long-term risk of heart attack, stroke or death.

"The idea is very attractive, because homocysteine levels can be easily reduced in most people with inexpensive therapy," said Eva M. Lonn, M.D., M.S.c., F.A.C.C., a professor of medicine and cardiology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "This is the largest trial worldwide completed to date to measure clinical events associated with a reduction of homocysteine levels following treatment with folate and other B vitamins."

Homocysteine is a normal byproduct of the breakdown of methionine, an essential amino acid. Folic acid,


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