Omega-3 fatty acid levels and congestive heart failure

Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have previously been associated with a reduced risk of coronary death, however their effect on other cardiovascular outcomes – such as congestive heart failure (CHF) – are less well established.  As CHF is one of the leading causes of hospitalisations, novel targets for its prevention are a priority.

In this study Mozaffarian et al. examined data from 2735 US adults who were enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study from 1992 to 2006.  Plasma phospholipid fatty acid concentrations of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (including ecisopentaenoic acid [EPA], docosapentaenoic acid [DPA], and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) were measured in 1992 and their relationship with incident CHF assessed by using Cox proportional hazards models.  555 cases of CHF were recorded over the follow up period; after multivariate adjustment plasma phospholipid EPA concentration was inversely associated with incident CHF (P for trend = 0.001).  Although a similar trend was seen for DPA (P=0.057) and total long-chain omega-3 fatty acid concentration (P=0.062), these did not reach significance; no correlation was noted for DHA (p=0.38).


In this study higher levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, EPA were associated with lower risk of CHF in older adults.  Further trails are required to clarify the respective benefits of individual types of fatty acids.

  • Mozaffarian D, Lemaitre RN, King IB et al.  Circulating Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Incidence fo Congestive Heart Failure in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study.  Ann Intern Med 2011;155:160-170.

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