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BACKGROUND: Epidemiological studies suggest that raised plasma concentrations of total homocysteine (tHcy) may be a common, causal and treatable risk factor for atherothromboembolic ischaemic stroke, dementia and depression. Although tHcy can be lowered effectively with small doses of folic acid, vitamin B(12) and vitamin B(6), it is not known whether lowering tHcy, by means of B vitamin therapy, can prevent stroke and other major atherothromboembolic vascular events. AIM: To determine whether the addition of B-vitamin supplements (folic acid 2 mg, B(6) 25 mg, B(12) 500 microg) to best medical and surgical management will reduce the combined incidence of stroke, myocardial infarction (MI) and vascular death in patients with recent stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) of the brain or eye. DESIGN: A prospective, international, multicentre, randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. SETTING: One hundred and four medical centres in 20 countries on five continents. SUBJECTS: Eight thousand (6600 recruited as of 5 January, 2006) patients with recent (<7 months) stroke (ischaemic or haemorrhagic) or TIA (brain or eye). RANDOMISATION: Randomisation and data collection are performed by means of a central telephone service or secure internet site. INTERVENTION: One tablet daily of either placebo or B vitamins (folic acid 2 mg, B(6) 25 mg, B(12) 500 mug). PRIMARY OUTCOME: The composite of stroke, MI or death from any vascular cause, whichever occurs first. Outcome and serious adverse events are adjudicated blinded to treatment allocation. SECONDARY OUTCOMES: TIA, unstable angina, revascularisation procedures, dementia, depression. STATISTICAL POWER: With 8000 patients followed up for a median of 2 years and an annual incidence of the primary outcome of 8% among patients assigned placebo, the study will have at least 80% power to detect a relative reduction of 15% in the incidence of the primary outcome among patients assigned B vitamins (to 6.8%/year), applying a two-tailed level of significance of 5%. CONCLUSION: VITATOPS aims to recruit and follow-up 8000 patients between 1998 and 2008, and provide a reliable estimate of the safety and effectiveness of folic acid, vitamin B(12), and vitamin B(6) supplementation in reducing recurrent serious vascular events among a wide range of patients with TIA and stroke throughout the world.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Stroke

Publication Date





144 - 150


Humans, Ischemic Attack, Transient, Research Design, Secondary Prevention, Stroke, Vitamin B Complex