Other names Plasma Total Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid, which is present in all cells of the body; the amino acid is usually present in very small quantities. Homocysteine is converted into other substances very quickly in healthy individuals. Homocysteine is produced by the metabolism methionine, one of the eleven essential amino acids; these amino acids must be taken into the body through the diet.

When is the test used?

The test is sometimes used to assess the risk of heart disease and strokes; it will usually be carried out alongside other tests. The test is not routinely carried out and there is some speculation surrounding the usefulness of the test as the role of homocysteine, in terms of increasing risk of heart disease, is unclear.

The test may also be used if a doctor suspects that a patient has a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.

How is the test performed?

The test is done by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the arm (usually on the inside of the elbow); a needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is drawn out and collected in a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be put in a bottle, labelled with the patient’s name and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results mean?

There is still a lack of clarity regarding the nature of the relationship between homocysteine levels and risk of heart disease; however, studies have suggested that people with higher homocysteine levels have a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Specific Blood Tests

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