Homocysteine is an amino acid that at increased levels in the body can damage the inner lining of the blood vessels resulting in increased chances of blood clot formation. The Homocysteine Test measures the levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid (a building block of the body) produced during protein breakdown. It is produced in small amounts in the blood. The primary sources of methionine like fisheries, meats and dairy products are converted into homocysteine. This conversion takes place through several compounds like vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid. Homocysteine is typically low in the body, so elevated levels may indicate deficiencies of several vitamins. To rule out this vitamin deficiency, your doctor may prescribe you a blood homocysteine test, a test that examines levels of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 (folic acid). In some countries, the homocysteine test is a routine newborn screen test. Some of the symptoms seen in vitamin deficiencies like dizziness, weakness, fatigue, increased heart rate, loss of appetite, paleness, sore tongue and mouth, tingling, numbness and burning in the feet, hands and arms can be signs of abnormal levels of homocysteine in the blood. A high homocysteine level is also associated with some disease conditions like atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, heart attack, thyroid dysfunction, kidney disease, psoriasis and side effects of certain medications. Moreover, high homocysteine levels can cause risk complications such as heart attacks, strokes, dementia and others if they aren’t properly treated. Although, the high homocysteine condition may be more prevalent in some populations, such as alcoholics (due to their poor vitamin intake) or patients with chronic kidney disease. The statistics indicate that between 5% and 12% of people have mildly elevated levels of homocysteine (hyperhomocysteinemia). The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) states that 92.85% of men (>11.4umol/L) and 81.60% of women (10.4umol/L) have high homocysteine levels in their blood.
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