Vitamin Deficiency Linked to Stroke and Plaque Buildup in Carotid Arteries

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed that people low in vitamin B12 had an increased risk of a fatal heart attack and stroke.

The study focused on the relationship between homocysteine, B-12 and carotid artery plaque.

The study showed that higher blood levels of B vitamins are related to lower concentrations of homocysteine leading to decrease plaquing in the carotid arteries. However, an elevated blood homocysteine level revealed a strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

How the Study was Conducted
The study examined 421 people with the average age being 66. Vitamin B12, homocysteine levels and degree of plaque in the carotid arteries (via ultrasound) were evaluated.

The Results

Seventy-three patients (17%) had vitamin B12 deficiency with a significant elevation of homocysteine. In addition and most important, the carotid plaque was significantly larger among the group of patients who had a deficiency of vitamin B12 In conclusion, the authors found that low blood vitamin B12 levels are a major cause of elevated homocysteine levels and increased carotid plaque area.

Dr. Grisanti’s Comments
Have your physician order a blood homocysteine test and a methylmalonic acid (MMA) test. This is the most specific test for B12 status NOT the serum B-12 blood test.



Reference

Kwok T, Chook P, Qiao M, Tam L, Poon YK, Ahuja AT, Woo J, Celermajer DS, Woo KS., Vitamin B-12 supplementation improves arterial function in vegetarians with subnormal vitamin B-12 status. J Nutr Health Aging. 2012;16(6):569-73.

Robertson J, Iemolo F, Stabler SP, Allen RH, Spence JD. Vitamin B12, homocysteine and carotid plaque in the era of folic acid fortification of enriched cereal grain products. CMAJ. 2005 Jun 7;172(12):1569-73.

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