Homocysteine

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Overview
Interpretations
FAQ's

Overview of Homocysteine

What is Homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an amino acid which at increased levels can cause damage to the inner lining of blood vessels resulting in increased chances of blood clot formation. The Homocysteine Test measures the levels of amino acid homocysteine in the body.

Sample Type

The sample type collected for Homocysteine is: Blood

Preparation for Homocysteine

  • Do not eat or drink anything other than water for 8-12 hours before the test.

Why Get Tested for Homocysteine?

The Homocysteine Test is performed:

·   To screen for heart attack and stroke, especially in people with no risk factors other than a family history of cardiovascular diseases

·   To detect and diagnose an inherited disease called homocystinuria in newborns and infants

·   To detect deficiency of Vitamin B6, B12, or Folic acid

Understand more about Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid which is an intermediate in the production of cysteine from methionine. Methionine is obtained from dietary sources, mainly fish, meat, and dairy products, and is converted to homocysteine, and then to cysteine in the body. This conversion from methionine to cysteine is regulated by various enzymes which require vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid to work. Deficiency of these vitamins causes an increase in the levels of homocysteine in the body. Increased homocysteine levels in the blood can also occur due to a rare genetic disease called homocystinuria, where the enzymes needed for methionine metabolism are dysfunctional.

Increased levels of homocysteine in blood are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis, thrombosis (formation of blood clots) in blood vessels, heart attack, and stroke. It has also been implicated in some studies with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.


What Results of Homocysteine mean?

Interpretations

Normal homocysteine levels: 4 to 15 µmol/L

Concentrations above 15µmol/L are considered increased homocysteine level. Increased level of homocysteine in the blood is called Hyperhomocysteinemia, which is classified into:

·         Moderate hyperhomocysteinemia: 15 to 30 µmol/L

·         Intermediate hyperhomocysteinemia: 30 to 100 µmol/L

·         Severe hyperhomocysteinemia: More than 100 µmol/L

Hyperhomocysteinemia can be caused due to:

·         Deficiency of Vitamin B6, B12, or Folic acid

·  Inherited disease homocystinuria (Genetic abnormality of methionine metabolizing enzymes)

·       Chronic alcoholism


The normal level of homocysteine in the blood is usually higher in males than in females. Homocysteine levels also increase with age.



Patient Concerns about Homocysteine

Frequently Asked Questions about Homocysteine

Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle attached is used to withdraw blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm generally from the inner side of the elbow area. The doctor, nurse or the phlebotomist will tie an elastic band around your arm which will help the blood vessels to swell with blood and hence makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You may feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected is then sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, as this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, rarely, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma (blood collection under the skin) formation, bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
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