Plasma total homocysteine levels in postmenopausal women with unstable coronary artery disease


      An elevated plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) level is considered a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), but the relationship between plasma tHcy and well-defined CAD in women is still unclear. Plasma tHcy concentrations and the covariates serum folate, vitamin B12, and creatinine were analysed in 157 angiographically examined postmenopausal women with unstable CAD and in 101 healthy controls. At coronary angiography, 16% had normal vessels and 84% had coronary atherosclerosis. Mean plasma tHcy concentration (μmol/l, 95% confidence interval) did not differ in patients compared to controls (13.1 (12.3–13.8) vs. 12.5 (11.6–13.5)) or in patients with or without coronary atherosclerosis (13.3 (12.4–14.1) vs. 12.0 (10.8–13.2)). A trend to an increasing plasma tHcy with increasing degree of coronary atherosclerosis was attenuated after adjustment for age and the previous mentioned covariates. Odds ratio for the risk of coronary artery disease and coronary atherosclerosis in hyperhomocysteinemic patients (≥90th percentile in controls) was approximately 3. However, the confidence interval included unity in half of the groups and the significance was therefore difficult to judge. Receiver operating characteristics showed age to be the only variable with a significant discriminatory ability regarding the presence of coronary atherosclerosis (area 0.77). Mild hyperhomocysteinemia seems not to be related to the risk of unstable CAD in postmenopausal women. The trend towards higher plasma tHcy with increasing degree of coronary atherosclerosis may be a marker of the disease. In future studies adjustment for age and the other three covariates should be considered.


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