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Folic Acid Plus Blood Pressure Medicine May Help Lower Risk of Stroke

Lowering blood pressure can help reduce the risk of stroke. A recent study suggests that taking folic acid with the medication Enalapril may be more effective for reducing the risk of stroke in people with hypertension than taking just the medicine is on its own.

Participants in the study included 20,702 adults with hypertension who had no history of stroke or heart attack. A portion of the participants took a 10 mg pill of Enalapril daily while the other group took 10 mg Enalapril and 0.8 mg folic acid. The average treatment time was 4.5 years.

During the study period, 282 or 2.7% of the participants in the combination Enalapril/folic acid group had a stroke. In comparison, 355 or 3.4% of the Enalapril-alone group had a stroke during that time.

The researchers analyzed these numbers and determined that the combination of the supplement and medication was equal to an absolute risk reduction of 0.7% and a relative risk reduction of 21%.

Additionally, they found that the combination group had a 2.2% risk of ischemic stroke while the Enalapril–alone group had a 2.8% risk. Finally, the risk of composite cardiovascular events such as cardiovascular death, heart attack, and stroke were 3.1% and 3.9%, respectively.

The effects were especially pronounced with people who had low folate levels at the onset of the study.

Researchers from Peking University First Hospital in Beijing conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 15, 2015, in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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. Previous studies have also found a potential link between this vitamin and reductions in hearing loss and birth defects.

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.

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