Folic Acid May Help Prevent Stroke In Patients With High Blood Pressure


Folic acid is an important B vitamin, especially for women of childbearing age. Health benefits of this nutrient for pregnant women include decreased risk of birth defects such as spina bifida. Folate also promotes circulation and has been shown to aid in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Many people take the nutrient in order to prevent future memory loss, bone degradation and age-related hearing problems. If that wasn’t enough reason to take folic acid, a new Chinese study suggests that folic acid may help ward off stroke in some people with high blood pressure.

The study team tracked over 20,000 Chinese adults with high blood pressure, none of who had ever had a heart attack or stroke. The volunteers were randomly assigned to take either a high blood pressure medication along with folic acid or the medication alone. After a treatment period of around four and half years, 2.7 percent of those in the folate group had had their first stroke, compared to 3.4 percent of those in the group with medication alone. This means that the risk of stroke was lowered by about 21 percent for participants taking folic acid.

The researchers also found that adding folic acid to high blood pressure medication can reduce the risk of heart-related deaths such as heart attack. Participants who used medication alone had 3.9 percent of the group see a heart-related death, compared to 3.1 percent of the group who took folic acid as well.

The results are important for future stroke prevention methods worldwide, as it may soon be commonplace for people with high blood pressure to begin a folic acid regimen. Scientists believe that even though this study was conducted on people with high blood pressure that the results may be the same for those without the condition, meaning this study may actually lead to overall reduction in stroke rates worldwide.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Roger Newbrook