Homocysteine-lowering interventions for preventing cardiovascular events

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 15;1:CD006612. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006612.pub4.


Background: Cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary artery disease, stroke and congestive heart failure, is a leading cause of death worldwide. Homocysteine is an amino acid with biological functions in methionine metabolism. A postulated risk factor is an elevated circulating total homocysteine level, which is associated with cardiovascular events. The impact of homocysteine-lowering interventions, given to patients in the form of vitamins B6, B9 or B12 supplements, on cardiovascular events. This is an update of a review previously published in 2009 and 2013.

Objectives: To determine whether homocysteine-lowering interventions, provided in patients with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease are effective in preventing cardiovascular events, as well as all-cause mortality and evaluate their safety.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL 2014, Issue 1), MEDLINE (1950 to January week 5 2014), EMBASE (1980 to 2014 week 6) and LILACS (1986 to February 2014). We also searched Web of Science (1970 to 7 February 2014). We handsearched the reference lists of included papers. We also contacted researchers in the field. There was no language restriction in the search.

Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials assessing the effects of homocysteine-lowering interventions for preventing cardiovascular events with a follow-up period of one year or longer. We considered myocardial infarction and stroke as the primary outcomes. We excluded studies in patients with end-stage renal disease.

Data collection and analysis: We performed study selection, 'Risk of bias' assessment and data extraction in duplicate. We estimated risk ratios (RR) for dichotomous outcomes. We measured statistical heterogeneity using the I(2) statistic. We used a random-effects model.

Main results: In this second updated Cochrane Review, we identified no new randomised controlled trials. Therefore, this new version includes 12 randomised controlled trials involving 47,429 participants. In general terms, 75% (9/12) trials had a low risk of bias. Homocysteine-lowering interventions compared with placebo did not significantly affect non-fatal or fatal myocardial infarction (1743/23,590 (7.38%) versus 1247/20,190 (6.17%); RR 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.95 to 1.10, I(2) = 0%, high quality evidence), stroke (968/22,348 (4.33%) versus 974/18,957 (5.13%); RR 0.91, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.0, I(2) = 11%, high quality evidence) or death from any cause (2784/22,648 (12.29%) versus 2502/19,250 (10.64%); RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.07, I(2) = 6%, high quality evidence). Homocysteine-lowering interventions compared with placebo did not significantly affect serious adverse events (cancer) (1558/18,130 (8.59%) versus 1334/14,739 (9.05%); RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.13; I(2) = 0%, high quality evidence).

Authors' conclusions: This second update of this Cochrane Review found no evidence to suggest that homocysteine-lowering interventions in the form of supplements of vitamins B6, B9 or B12 given alone or in combination should be used for preventing cardiovascular events. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that homocysteine-lowering interventions are associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / complications
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / therapy*
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin B Complex