Folic Acid Associated With Reduced Stroke Risk in People with High Blood Pressure
Folic acid is best known as a prenatal vitamin, but it may have other health benefits as well. A recent study suggests that taking folic acid supplements may reduce the risk of stroke by almost 75% in people with high blood pressure and high stroke risk.
Participants in the study included 10,789 people between the ages of 45 and 75 who had hypertension. Half of the group was given a combined daily oral dose of 10 mg of the antihypertensive enalapril and 0.8 mg of folic acid, while the other have was given only the enalapril. Those in the highest stroke risk group had high homocysteine and low platelet levels, while those in the lowest stroke risk group had low homocysteine and high platelet levels.
In the highest stroke risk group, 1.8% of participants taking folic acid had a stroke, compared with 5.6% of those not taking folic acid, which the researchers determined was a reduction of 73%. In the lowest stroke risk group, 3.0% of participants taking folic acid had a stroke, compared with 3.3% of those not taking it.
Researchers from the Heart Center of Peking University First Hospital in China conducted the study. It was published on May 19, 2018, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate plays an essential role in many of the necessary functions of the human body. It has been associated with nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function.
Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate-rich foods, such as liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons.