Association of Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids with Incident Atrial Fibrillation in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study
Background—Experimental studies suggest long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation (AF). Prior studies evaluating fish or n-3 PUFA consumption from dietary questionnaires and incident AF have been conflicting. Circulating levels of n-3 PUFA provide an objective measurement of exposure.
Methods and Results—Among 3,326 US men and women age ≥65y and free of AF or heart failure at baseline, plasma phospholipid levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were measured at baseline using standardized methods. Incident AF (789 cases) was prospectively identified from hospital discharge records and study visit electrocardiograms during 31,169 person-years of follow-up (1992-2006). In multivariable Cox models adjusted for other risk factors, the RR in the top versus lowest quartile of total n-3 PUFA (EPA+DPA+DHA) levels was 0.71 (95%CI=0.57-0.89, P-trend=0.004); and of DHA levels, 0.77 (95%CI=0.62-0.96, P-trend=0.01). EPA and DPA levels were not significantly associated with incident AF. Evaluated non-parametrically, both total n-3 PUFA and DHA showed graded and linear inverse associations with incidence of AF. Adjustment for intervening events such as heart failure or myocardial infarction during follow-up did not appreciably alter results.
Conclusions—In older adults, higher circulating total long-chain n-3 PUFA and DHA levels were associated with lower risk of incident AF. These results highlight the need to evaluate whether increased dietary intake of these fatty acids could be effective for primary prevention of AF.
- Received August 16, 2011.
- Accepted January 18, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012, American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited