September 5, 2005

B vitamins no help in stopping heart attacks-study

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Giving B vitamins to heart attack
survivors does not cut their risk of having another attack and
may actually do more harm than good, researchers said on

The finding confounds supporters of vitamins, including
some doctors, who have argued that folic acid and vitamin B-6
can prevent heart disease by reducing levels of a substance
called homocysteine in the blood.

A study of more than 3,700 patients presented at the
European Society of Cardiology congress showed high doses of B
vitamins could be bad news.

Those who took folic acid or vitamin B-6 alone had a small
and statistically insignificant increase in the risk of
cardiovascular disease, but those who took both saw their risk
jump by 20 percent.

Professor Kaare Harald Bonaa of the University of Tromso,
Norway, said the 3-year trial showed vitamins did reduce
homocysteine levels, by around 30 percent, but this did not
translate into lowered heart risk.

"The homocysteine hypothesis is dead," he told reporters.

Homocysteine, an amino acid, is produced when the body
metabolises high-protein foods. Scientists think that high
concentrations could damage blood-vessel walls.

"The results of the trial are important because they tell
doctors that prescribing high doses of B vitamins will not
prevent heart disease or stroke. B vitamins should be
prescribed only to patients who have B vitamin deficiency,"
Bonaa said.