Hyperhomocysteinemia: an independent risk factor or a simple marker of vascular disease? 2. Epidemiological data.

Elevated plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) is considered as a risk factor for occlusive cardiovascular disease (CVD). This concept is based on the observations of premature vascular disease in patients with homocystinuria and on the association between tHcy and increased risk of CVD in prospective studies. However, some observations have raised questions about tHcy as a risk factor. First, low risk population based prospective studies tend to indicate a weak association or no association between tHcy and CVD. Second, several traditional risk factors for CVD are associated with tHcy and may confound the relation between tHcy and CVD. Third, the C667T transition of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase causes a moderate increase in tHcy but no or only minor increased CVD risk. Thus, only placebo-controlled intervention studies with tHcy-lowering B-vitamins and clinical endpoints can provide additional valid arguments for the debate over whether tHcy is a causal CVD risk factor.