Why folic acid won’t prevent a heart attack

February 3rd, 2011 - 5:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 3 (ANI): A new study at The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and Barts has claimed that taking folic acid might save you from a heart attack once, but not the second time.

The paradox is that taking folic acid, a B vitamin, lowers homocysteine in the blood which, according to epidemiological evidence, should lower the risk of heart attack.

Clinical trials, however, have shown no such results.

The researchers explain that lowering homocysteine prevents platelets sticking, which stops blood clots, similar to an aspirin. So if people in the trials were already taking aspirin there would be no extra benefit in lowering homocysteine with folic acid.

The team found that there was a difference in the reduction in heart disease events between the five trials with the lowest aspirin use (60 per cent of the participants took aspirin) and the five trials with the highest use (91 per cent took aspirin).

The observed risk reduction was six per cent but it would have been 15 per cent if no one had been taking aspirin. Research was based on 75 epidemiological studies involving about 50,000 participants and clinical trials involving about 40,000 participants.

“The negative clinical trial evidence should not close the door on folic acid - folic acid may still be of benefit in people who have not had a heart attack because they will generally not be taking aspirin,” said Dr David Wald, the lead author of the paper.

The study is published in the current issue of the Public Library of Science. (ANI)

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