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AHA: Folic Acid Does Not Curb MI, Stroke in At-Risk Women

Large randomized trial found no significant benefit after 7.3 years of follow-up

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are at risk or have cardiovascular disease can reduce their homocysteine levels if they take folic acid or vitamin B supplements, but this does not result in a clinically significant reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, revascularization or cardiovascular-related mortality, according to a report presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

Christine Albert, M.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, reported the results of the Women's Antioxidant and Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study (WAFACS), a double-blind randomized trial of 5,442 women aged 40 or older with cardiovascular disease or three or more coronary risk factors. Patients received a placebo or a combination of folic acid (2.5 mg daily), vitamin B6 (50 mg daily) and vitamin B12 (1 mg daily).

During an average follow-up of 7.3 years, homocysteine levels declined from 12.2 to 10 μmol/L in the intervention group, but remained the same (12.3 μmol/L) in the placebo group. Overall, 14.6 percent of women experienced a cardiovascular disease-related event, and there was no significant difference between the two groups. While folic acid did increase from baseline in the placebo group due to population-wide food supplementation (9.2 to 16.4 ng/mL), it was still much lower than the intervention group (9 to 39.6 ng/mL).

"Homocysteine lowering by background folic acid fortification in the food supply, which was minimal in these data, does not appear to account for the null findings," said Albert.

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