The homocysteine blood test measures the amount of homocysteine present in the blood.
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid produced in our body during protein breakdown. It requires Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, and folic acid for its breakdown. Therefore increased levels of homocysteine in the blood may be a sign of deficiency of these vitamins.
Why this test is performed?
This test is one among many tests used to determine whether you have vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid deficiencies. Your doctor may advise you to do this test if you experience any symptoms of vitamin B or folic acid deficiency such as weakness, pale skin, dizziness, sore tongue and mouth, fatigue, tingling in the hands, arms, feet and/or legs. Your doctor may ask to perform this test if you have a family history of heart disease or to screen and monitor heart disease or if you are at high risk for heart attack or stroke. This test may also be performed as part of routine newborn screening or when a doctor suspects that an infant or young person may have homocystinuria, a rare inherited condition that prevents the body from breaking down certain proteins.
Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your Homocysteine. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for Homocysteine.
You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for about 8 to 12 hours prior to this test.
If the test result falls in the normal reference range generally no medical intervention is necessary.
High levels of homocysteine may indicate malnutrition or vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid deficiencies. This occurs in individuals who do not get sufficient vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid through diet or supplements. Symptoms of vitamin B or folic acid deficiency are a weakness, pale skin, dizziness, sore tongue and mouth, fatigue, tingling in the hands, arms, feet and/or legs. Increased levels of homocysteine may also be seen in individuals who are at higher risk of heart disease.
Infants or young individuals with high levels of homocysteine may have homocystinuria, a rare inherited condition that prevents the body from breaking down certain proteins. This condition can result from many enzymatic defects such as defects in methylcobalamin formation, cystathionine beta-synthase deficiency, and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency. Signs and symptoms of homocystinuria are thin bones, developmental delay, the formation of blood clots, visual abnormalities, etc. Few more additional tests are also performed to confirm homocystinuria in such individuals. Those tests determine the presence of an enzyme cystathionine beta-synthase in the body and absence of this enzyme is the main cause for homocystinuria.
Other reasons that could raise your homocysteine levels are age (Homocysteine levels may get higher with an increase in age), gender (Men have higher levels of homocysteine than women), smoking, alcohol consumption, use of vitamin B supplements or certain medications such as methotrexate, carbamazepine, and phenytoin.
Low levels of homocysteine than the normal range is not very common. However, if you have higher or lower than normal levels of homocysteine in blood consult your doctor for further instructions. Based on the test results, your doctor may advise appropriate medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, or further diagnostic tests.
|UNISEX||All age groups||4 - 15 micromol/L|