Cardiovascular Health and High Triglycerides
An increasingly concern for Australia’s health, high levels of triglycerides or fat in the blood can be linked to the deteriorating health of the cardiovascular system.
Hypertension remains a top concern among the general public since nearly half of US adults have hypertension and the death rate from high blood pressure has increased nearly 11 percent in the last decade. Additionally, fewer of these individuals are accepting the traditional pharmaceutical solutions, instead seeking non-pharmaceutical alternatives to managing this challenge. As one of the most modifiable risk factors for Australia’s top causes of mortality – including coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and peripheral vascular disease – hypertension demands our attention.
Excess homocysteine in the circulation can damage the lining of arterial walls, making them narrow and inelastic. Research suggests that a raised homocysteine level is an independent risk factor for hardening of the arteries, coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and other conditions associated with abnormal blood clotting. Elevated homocysteine is also linked with a number of other serious medical conditions including depression, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, spontaneous abortion, placental abruption, neural tube defects (spina bifida, cleft palate, etc.), renal failure, and type II diabetes.
Homocysteine is produced by the demethylation of dietary methionine which comes from protein-containing foods. It is recycled back into methionine through a pathway that involves vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin (which remethylates it) and folate. Homocysteine is simply an intermediate in a very important biochemical pathway. Plasma homocysteine can also travel another route which involves the passing of sulfur groups (transsulfuration). This is vitamin B6-dependent and results in the production of cysteine which can convert into glutathione, the most important antioxidant in the body.
- Verhoef P et al. Plasma total homocysteine, B vitamins and risk of coronary atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 1997;17:989-95.
- Refsum H et al. Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease Ann Rev Med 1998;49:31-62.
- Evers S et al. Features, symptoms and neurophysiological ndings in stroke associated with hyperhomocysteinemia. Arch Neurol 1997;54:1276-82.