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Early markers of occult megaloblastosis for low-cost detection of hyperhomocysteinemia in patients with ischaemic stroke: preventive approach for primary health care

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Recent studies have focussed on the association between elevated homocysteine levels with megaloblastic changes and thromboembolic events, but the relationship between occult megaloblastosis (with normal haemoglobin levels) and ischaemic stroke has not been widely explored. The objective of this study is to establish a simple and economical marker for the detection of occult megaloblastosis at the community health care level in developing countries. A hundred patients who met the inclusion criteria were studied. At the 5% level of significance, the levels of cobalamin and folate were significantly lower, while the number of hypersegmented neutrophils on the peripheral smear was higher in patients from Group A (70 patients with high homocysteine) compared with the patients in Group B (30 patients with normal homocysteine). Forty-five (64.2%) of the 70 patients in Group A showed hypersegmentation of neutrophils in the peripheral smear. The high cost and difficulty in performing the vitamin assays limit their use as early markers of megaloblastosis. Hence, we conclude that in developing countries, the detection of hypersegmented neutrophils can be used at the primary healthcare level for early diagnosis of occult megaloblastosis, so that early therapeutic interventions with vitamins can prevent attacks of hyperhomocysteinemia-induced ischaemic stroke.
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Keywords: cobalamin; cobalamine; folate; homocysteine; homocystéine; hypersegmented neutrophils; neutrophiles hypersegmentés

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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