Homocyst(e)ine and Coronary Heart Disease: Pharmacoeconomic Support for Interventions to Lower Hyperhomocyst(e)inaemia
Brahmajee K. Nallamothu
A. Mark Fendrick
Gilbert S. Omenn
Homocyst(e)ine, a sulphur-containing amino acid, is an intermediate formed during the metabolism of the essential amino acid methionine. Biological and epidemiological evidence suggest that elevated plasma levels of homocyst(e)ine are a risk factor for atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease (CHD). In the general US population, hyperhomocyst(e)inaemia is common and most often due to mild nutritional deficiencies in the B vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6). While high homocyst(e)ine levels can be effectively lowered using folic acid and other B vitamins, it is unknown whether such vitamin therapy will lead to clinical benefits. Given that strategies for homocyst(e)ine-lowering are safe and inexpensive, however, even small reductions in CHD risk will be highly cost effective. Thus, it may be prudent for patients to ensure an adequate daily intake of dietary folic acid and other B vitamins and for physicians to screen high-risk adults such as those with established CHD as we await definitive results from ongoing clinical trials.
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