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Daily Dose: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce CVD Risk in Individuals with Family History of CVD

Daily Dose: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce CVD Risk in Individuals with Family History of CVD / Image Credit: ©New Africa/AdobeStock
©New Africa/AdobeStock

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

Last week, we reported on findings from a study published in Circulation that examined whether a diet low in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) modified cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in individuals with and without a family history of CVD.

The study

Researchers conducted the harmonized pooled analysis of 15 observational studies, including 40 885 participants across 10 countries.

For the purpose of the study, family history of CVD was defined as a participant having a parent or sibling with a fatal or nonfatal CVD, irrespective of their age at diagnosis. Researchers observed between-study heterogeneity to be low-moderate (I2 < 60%) for the pooled analyses of family history.

Biomarkers of PUFA intake were measured in phospholipids, red blood cells, total serum, plasma, cholesterol esters, and adipose tissue as percentages of total fatty acids. Levels of PUFA ≤25th percentile reflected low intake of linoleic acid (LA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA), or eicosapentaenoic/docosahexaenoic acids (EPA/DHA).


After multivariable adjustments, investigators observed a significant interaction between low EPA/DHA and family history of CVD (product term pooled relative risk [RR] 1.09, 95% CI 1.02-1.16; P=.01).

Investigators found that the pooled RR of CVD associated with the combined exposure to low EPA/DHA and family history was 1.41 (95% CI 1.30-1.54), while it was 1.25 (95% CI 1.16–1.33) for family history alone and 1.06 (95% CI 0.98–1.14) for EPA/DHA alone, compared with persons with neither exposure.

Authors' comment

“Although these results should be interpreted with caution, it seems reasonable to conclude that our results support the current cardiovascular prevention guidelines regarding the consumption of foods rich in n-3 EPA/DHA (ie, oily fish), especially for people with a family history of CVD. Our side findings support the current recommendations stating that foods rich in n-6 LA and n-3 ALA such as vegetable oils and nuts should be a part of the diet.”

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