Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been associated with beneficial influences on cardiovascular health. However, the underlying mechanisms are not clear, and data on the relations of polyunsaturated fatty acids to subclinical disease measures such as vascular stiffness and cardiac function are sparse and inconclusive. In a large community-based cohort, we examined the relations of omega-3 and other fatty acids to a comprehensive panel of vascular function measures (assessing microvascular function and large artery stiffness), cardiac structure and left ventricular function. Red blood cell (RBC) membrane fatty acid composition, a measure of long-term fatty acid intake, was assessed in participants of the Framingham Offspring Study and Omni cohorts and related to tonometry-derived measures of vascular stiffness and to a panel of echocardiographic traits using partial correlations. Up to n=3055 individuals (56% women, mean age 66 years) were available for analyses. In age- and sex-adjusted models, higher RBC omega-3 content was moderately associated (p≤0.002) with several measures of vascular stiffness and function in a protective direction. However, after multivariable adjustment, only an association of higher RBC omega-3 content with lower carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (a measure of aortic stiffness) remained significant (r = -0.06, p=0.002). In secondary analyses, higher linoleic acid, the major nutritional omega-6 fatty acid, was associated with smaller left atrial size, even after multivariable adjustment (r = -0.064, p<0.001). In conclusion, in our cross-sectional community-based study, we found several associations consistent with the notion of protective effects of omega-3 and linoleic acid. The clinical significance of these modest associations remains to be elucidated.
- aortic stiffness
- fatty acids
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine