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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Preoperative folate and homocysteine status in patients undergoing major surgery.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Patients with folate deficiency and elevated homocysteine (Hcy) levels have increased risk of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease. They may also be at increased risk of complications after surgery because nitrous oxide interferes with folate metabolism. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of folate deficiency and hyperhomocysteinemia in patients presenting for major surgery. We also tested the utility of a brief preoperative medical and dietary questionnaire to identify those with low folate or elevated Hcy levels. METHODS: We enrolled 390 patients and obtained a preoperative fasting blood sample from each of the study participants (folate [n=386], homocysteine [n=387]). RESULTS: Although only one patient had folate deficiency preoperatively (incidence +/-SD folate and Hcy concentrations were 23.7+/-5.2 nmol/l and 9.4+/-4.2 micromol/l, respectively. There was a negative correlation between folate and Hcy, r=-0.27, P<0.001. Multivariate analyses indicated that vegan status and folate supplementation prevented low folate status (P<0.05), while age of the patient, and history of heart failure and anaemia predicted elevated Hcy concentration. CONCLUSIONS: Some factors identified by a brief medical and dietary questionnaire are associated with folate and homocysteine status. Hyperhomocysteinaemia occurs in about 7.5% of surgical patients; however, both low folate status and elevated Hcy concentration are less likely in those taking folate or vitamin B supplements. This has implications for patients undergoing nitrous oxide anaesthesia because of its inhibition of folate metabolism, and should prompt clinicians to consider folate and other nutritional supplementation before elective surgery.[1]


  1. Preoperative folate and homocysteine status in patients undergoing major surgery. Myles, P.S., Chan, M.T., Forbes, A., Leslie, K., Paech, M., Peyton, P. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland) (2006) [Pubmed]
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