AsianScientist (Mar. 26, 2015) – In a study that included more than 20,000 adults in China with high blood pressure but without a history of stroke or heart attack, folic acid was found to significantly reduce the risk of stroke. The results have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Stroke is the leading cause of death in China and second leading cause of death in the world. Primary prevention (prevention prior to a first episode) is particularly important because about 77 percent of strokes are first events. Although folic acid supplements have been suggested to prevent stroke, only limited and consistent evidence was available.
Led by Dr. Huo Yong of Peking University First Hospital, a team of researchers conducted a trial of 20,702 adults with hypertension without history of stroke or heart attack. Patients were randomly assigned to receive daily treatment with a single-pill combination containing the anti-hypertenstion drug enalapril (10 mg) and folic acid (0.8 mg; n = 10,348), or a tablet containing enalapril alone (10 mg; n = 10,354).
The trial was conducted from May 2008 to August 2013 in 32 communities in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces in China. Participants were tested for variations in the MTHFR C677T gene (CC, CT, and TT genotypes) that may affect folate levels.
During a median treatment duration of 4.5 years, first stroke occurred in 282 participants (2.7 percent) in the enalapril-folic acid group compared with 355 participants (3.4 percent) in the enalapril group, representing an absolute risk reduction of 0.7 percent and a relative risk reduction of 21 percent.
Analyses also showed significant reductions among participants in the enalapril-folic acid group in the risk of ischemic stroke (2.2 percent vs 2.8 percent) and composite cardiovascular events (cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke) (3.1 percent vs 3.9 percent). There was no significant difference between groups in the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, heart attack, or all-cause death, or in the frequencies of adverse events.
The authors write that this trial (China Stroke Primary Prevention Trial; CSPPT), with data on individual baseline folate levels and MTHFR genotypes, has provided convincing evidence that baseline folate level is an important determinant of efficacy of folic acid therapy in stroke prevention.
“The CSPPT is the first large-scale randomized trial to test the hypothesis using individual measures of baseline folate levels. In this population without folic acid fortification, we observed considerable individual variation in plasma folate levels and clearly showed that the beneficial effect appeared to be more pronounced in participants with lower folate levels,” they said.
“We speculate that even in countries with folic acid fortification and widespread use of folic acid supplements such as in the United States and Canada, there may still be room to further reduce stroke incidence using more targeted folic acid therapy—in particular, among those with the TT genotype and low or moderate folate levels.”
Source: The Journal of the American Medical Association; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.