Folic acid tablets could prove a cheap and simple way of cutting heart disease and stroke risk, new evidences suggests.
According to a study by heart experts, folic acid could lower homocysteine concentrations - an amino acid in the blood considered to be a cause of cardiovascular disease, reported Newswise wire.
David Wald and colleagues from the London School of Medicine and Barts Hospital, London, examined all the evidence from different studies to see whether raised homocysteine is a cause of cardiovascular disease.
Some studies looked at homocysteine and the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes in large numbers of people (cohort studies), some focused on people with a common genetic variant which increases homocysteine levels to a small extent (genetic studies), while others tested the effects of lowering homocysteine levels (random controlled trials).
The cohort studies and genetic studies yielded similar results, indicating a protective effect from lower homocysteine levels, even though they did not share the same sources of possible error.
The random trials were too small to be conclusive although their results were consistent with the expected protective effects of folic acid.
The conclusion that homocysteine is a cause of cardiovascular disease explains the observations from all the different types of study, say the authors.
Since folic acid reduces homocysteine concentrations, it follows that increasing folic acid consumption will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, the researchers said.
They were of the view that the evidence was sufficient to justify action on lowering homocysteine concentrations, although it could be reviewed when new evidence from ongoing clinical trials emerge.