Folic Acid Fails to Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Events

Two studies show that folic acid has no protective effective in heart patients and diabetics

MONDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Supplements containing folic acid and other B vitamins do not reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, according to two studies released early online March 12 by the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the American College of Cardiology conference in Atlanta.

Eva Lonn, M.D., of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues randomly assigned 5,522 patients with vascular disease or diabetes to receive folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 or placebo. The researchers found that 519 patients (18.8 percent) in the treatment group died from cardiovascular causes compared to 547 (19.8 percent) in the placebo group.

Kaare Harald Bonaa, M.D., of the University of Tromso in Norway, and colleagues randomly assigned 3,749 heart attack survivors to receive one of four daily treatments: folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6; folic acid and vitamin B12; vitamin B6; or placebo. The researchers found that none of the interventions reduced the risk of another heart attack, stroke or sudden death. They also found that the folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 group had an increased risk compared to placebo (RR, 1.22).

"The straightforward but incorrect view that folic acid can decrease homocysteine levels and, thus, reduce the risk of atherosclerosis effectively may be an unintended consequence of oversimplifying a complicated metabolic network," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

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