Homocysteine Blood Test
The Homocysteine Blood Test measures homocysteine levels in the blood to screen for a vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid deficiency.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Homocysteine Blood Test to measure homocysteine levels in the blood and help screen for a vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid deficiency. Homocysteine is an amino acid, molecules the body uses to make proteins. The homocysteine concentration levels are usually low because the body uses vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid to quickly break down homocysteine and convert it into other substances the body needs.
High homocysteine levels in the blood may indicate that this process isn't working correctly or that an individual lacks specific B vitamins. In addition, high levels of homocysteine can damage the inside of the arteries and increase the risk of forming blood clots. This condition may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other symptoms related to cardiovascular disease (CVD).
What causes abnormal homocysteine levels?
Normally, homocysteine breaks down into other substances, and only trace amounts remain in the bloodstream. However, some underlying health conditions may interrupt this process and result in high homocysteine concentration levels. The following conditions can cause abnormally high homocysteine levels:
- A vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid deficiency
- Heart disease
- A rare genetic disease, such as homocystinuria (a condition that prevents the body from producing specific amino acids)
When should I order a Homocysteine Blood Test?
Individuals may order this test if they have experienced vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid deficiency symptoms. Common signs or symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Changes to the color of skin or fingernails
- Sores in the mouth or on the tongue
- Tingling or numbness in the hands, feet, arms, or legs
Additionally, this test may also be ordered if an individual has experienced symptoms related to heart disease, such as:
- Heart attack or stroke
- High LDL "bad" cholesterol
- High blood pressure
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