Rationale, design and baseline characteristics of a large, simple, randomized trial of combined folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 in high-risk patients: The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE)-2 trial
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BACKGROUND Epidemiological studies suggest that mild to moderate elevation in plasma homocysteine concentration is associated with increased risk of atherothrombotic cardiovascular (CV) disease. Simple, inexpensive and nontoxic therapy with folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 reduces plasma homocysteine levels by approximately 25% to 30% and may reduce CV events. Therefore, a large, randomized clinical trial – the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE)-2 study – is being conducted to evaluate this therapy in patients at high risk for CV events. OBJECTIVES To evaluate whether long-term therapy with folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 reduces the risk of major CV events in a high-risk population. The primary study outcome is the composite of death from CV causes, myocardial infarction and stroke. METHODS A total of 5522 patients aged 55 years or older with pre-existing CV disease or with diabetes and additional risk factor(s) at 145 centres in 13 countries were randomly assigned to daily therapy with combined folic acid 2.5 mg, vitamin B6 50 mg and vitamin B12 1 mg, or to placebo. Follow-up will average five years, to be completed by the end of 2005. RESULTS The patients’ baseline characteristics confirmed their high-risk status. Baseline homocysteine levels varied between countries and regions. HOPE-2 is one of the largest trials of folate and vitamins B6 and B12 and is expected to significantly contribute to the evaluation of the role of homocysteine lowering in CV prevention.