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Effects of folic acid treatment on homocysteine levels and vascular disease in hemodialysis patients.

Marco Righetti, Gian Michele Ferrario, Silvana Milani, Paola Serbelloni, Lucia La Rosa, Mario Uccellini, Adalberto Sessa

Med Sci Monit 2003; 9(4): PI19-24

ID: 4688


BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease is the most important cause of morbidity and mortality in hemodialysis patients. These patients frequently have hyperhomocysteinemia, a putative risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Treatment with folate, B[sub]6[/sub] and B[sub]12[/sub] partially reduces hyperhomocysteinemia. We conducted a long-term study to evaluate whether 15 mg is more effective than 5 mg oral folic acid as a daily dosage to decrease hyperhomocysteinemia, and to assess whether homocysteine-lowering treatment reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in hemodialysis patients. MATERIAL/METHODS: In a 1-year prospective randomised trial, 81 chronic hemodialysis patients, matched for age, gender and dialytic age, were divided into three groups: 30 untreated patients, 26 patients receiving 5 mg per day, and 25 patients receiving 15 mg per day. RESULTS: There was a significant reduction in hyperhomocysteinemia over time in treated patients as compared to untreated, but there were no significant differences between the two treated groups. Only 12% of the treated patients reached normal total homocysteine plasma levels. We observed a trend towards a significant difference in survival rate in cardiovascular morbidity between treated and untreated patients. Furthermore, hemodialysis patients with new vascular events showed higher homocysteine levels than patients without events. CONCLUSIONS: High-dose folic acid treatment did not improve outcome in hyperhomocysteinemia, and 88% of treated patients maintained higher than normal homocysteine levels. There was a trend towards a decreased rate of cardiovascular events in treated participants as compared to untreated ones.

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