Study Title:

DHA Helps Prevent Atherosclerosis in Patients with High Cholesterol

Study Abstract

Background: Low rates of incident ischemic heart disease (IHD) and cardiac death occur in Spain despite a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors. High consumption of unsaturated fatty acid–rich foods, such as olive oil, nuts, and seafood, might underlie this paradox.

Objective: We investigated whether serum phosphatidylcholine enrichment in oleic, linoleic, -linolenic, and n–3 (omega-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (as biomarkers of olive oil, seed oil, walnut, and fish intake, respectively) relate to carotid atherosclerosis in Spanish subjects at risk of IHD.

Design: In a cross-sectional study, we measured fatty acid concentrations in serum phosphatidylcholine and measured carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) by using ultrasound in 451 asymptomatic subjects (261 men, 190 women; mean age: 45 y) with primary dyslipidemia. Main and secondary outcomes were mean and maximum IMT in the common carotid artery (CCA) and other carotid segments, respectively.

Results: Phosphatidylcholine fatty acid composition was similar to that reported for other Spanish populations. Multiple regression analyses showed that proportions of oleic and docosahexaenoic acids were inversely related to mean CCA IMT (P < 0.02, all) after adjustment for several confounders. In similar models, -linolenic acid related inversely to mean and maximum internal carotid artery IMT (P < 0.05 for all). Linoleic and eicosapentaenoic acids were unrelated to IMT.

Conclusions: Higher phospholipid proportions of oleic, -linolenic, and docosahexaenoic acids showed inverse associations with IMT at specific carotid segments in subjects with primary dyslipidemia. High intakes of healthy fats might explain, in part, the Spanish paradox of low IHD rates in the face of a high burden of cardiovascular risk factors.

Study Information

Aleix Sala-Vila, Montserrat Cofán, Ana Pérez-Heras, Isabel Núñez, Rosa Gilabert, Mireia Junyent, Rocío Mateo-Gallego, Ana Cenarro, Fernando Civeira and Emilio Ros.
Fatty acids in serum phospholipids and carotid intima-media thickness in Spanish subjects with primary dyslipidemia.
Am J Clin Nutr
2010 July
Sunyer Hospital Clínic Barcelona Spain

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