Dietary intake of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of myocardial infarction in coronary artery disease patients with or without diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study
© Strand et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Received: 5 July 2013
Accepted: 12 September 2013
Published: 8 October 2013
A beneficial effect of a high n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) intake has been observed in heart failure patients, who are frequently insulin resistant. We investigated the potential influence of impaired glucose metabolism on the relation between dietary intake of n-3 LCPUFAs and risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in patients with coronary artery disease.
This prospective cohort study was based on the Western Norway B-Vitamin Intervention Trial and included 2,378 patients with coronary artery disease with available baseline glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and dietary data. Patients were sub-grouped as having no diabetes (HbA1c <5.7%), pre-diabetes (HbA1c ≥5.7%), or diabetes (previous diabetes, fasting baseline serum glucose ≥7.0, or non-fasting glucose ≥11.1 mmol/L). AMI risk was evaluated by Cox regression (age and sex adjusted), comparing the upper versus lower tertile of daily dietary n-3 LCPUFA intake.
The participants (80% males) had a mean age of 62 and follow-up of 4.8 years. A high n-3 LCPUFA intake was associated with reduced risk of AMI (hazard ratio 0.38, 95%CI 0.18, 0.80) in diabetes patients (median HbA1c = 7.2%), whereas no association was observed in pre-diabetes patients. In patients without diabetes a high intake tended to be associated with an increased risk (hazard ratio1.45, 95%CI 0.84, 2.53), which was significant for fatal AMI (hazard ratio 4.79, 95%CI 1.05, 21.90) and associated with lower HbA1c (mean ± standard deviation 4.55 ±0.68 versus 4.92 ±0.60, P = 0.02). No such differences in HbA1c were observed in those with pre-diabetes or diabetes.
A high intake of n-3 LCPUFAs was associated with a reduced risk of AMI, independent of HbA1c, in diabetic patients, but with an increased risk of fatal AMI and lower HbA1c among patients without impaired glucose metabolism. Further studies should investigate whether patients with diabetes may benefit from having a high intake of n-3 LCPUFAs and whether patients with normal glucose tolerance should be careful with a very high intake of these fatty acids.
This trial is registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00354081.
KeywordsCoronary artery disease Diabetes Dietary n-3 fatty acids Myocardial infarction
Dietary intakes of fish and omega-3 (n-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), mainly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality [1, 2]. A diet rich in these fatty acids (FAs) is recommended in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease . However, two recent meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials, investigating n-3 LCPUFA intake through diet or supplements, failed to demonstrate an overall preventive effect on cardiovascular events [4, 5]. Furthermore, a recent large randomized controlled trial among patients at high cardiovascular risk showed no reduction in heart disease or cardiac death after treatment with 1 g/day of n-3 LCPUFA .
Randomized trials with n-3 LCPUFA intervention have shown reduced mortality  and improved left ventricular systolic function and functional capacity [8, 9] among patients with heart failure, who are frequently insulin resistant . In general, patients with diabetes mellitus are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease complications, including acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and mortality, as compared to patients without diabetes . There is, however, conflicting evidence regarding associations between dietary n-3 LCPUFAs and cardiovascular events among patients with diabetes [12–17]. A recently published large randomized controlled trial of 12,536 patients with dysglycemia (ORIGIN), failed to demonstrate a benefit of daily n-3 LCPUFA supplementation . Participants had a baseline dietary n-3 LCPUFA intake of approximately 200 mg/day and median glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of 6.4%. The intervention group received 1 g/day of n-3 LCPUFAs, while the placebo group received 1 g/day of olive oil. Notably, mortality rate in ORIGIN was higher than could be expected (2.57%)  compared to other trials investigating glucose lowering therapy in patients with diabetes. The ACCORD trial (baseline median HbA1c 8.1%) had a mortality rate of 1.41% in the intensive treatment group and demonstrated that aggressive glucose lowering in patients with diabetes, targeting HbA1c <6.0%, may be associated with increased mortality . Based on this, the overall intensive glucose lowering in ORIGIN may have influenced the negative results regarding n-3 LCPUFA supplements.
Our previous investigation on the current population of Norwegian patients with established coronary artery disease (CAD) showed no overall reduction in risk of coronary events with increasing intakes of n-3 LCPUFAs . No sub-group analyses were, however, conducted. Based on the reported beneficial effects in patients with heart failure [7–9], the current investigation evaluated the association of n-3 LCPUFA intake with risk of AMI in patients with no diabetes, pre-diabetes, or established diabetes, respectively, in the patient cohort previously studied. We hypothesized that participants with diabetes mellitus would benefit from a high intake of n-3 LCPUFAs.
The current investigation was a prospective cohort study based on participants from the Western Norway B-Vitamin Intervention Trial (WENBIT) . In short, this was a clinical trial conducted between 1999 and 2006 at Haukeland University Hospital and Stavanger University Hospital in Western Norway, including 3,090 patients undergoing coronary angiography for suspected CAD, and who were randomized to treatment with B vitamins. Overall, there was no short- or long-term benefits on cardiovascular outcomes or all-cause mortality associated with the study treatment .
All participants gave written informed consent. The study protocol was in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki, and it was approved by the Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics, the Norwegian Medicines Agency, and the Data Inspectorate. WENBIT is registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00354081.
An FFQ developed at the Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo, validated against plasma phospholipid n-3 LCPUFA concentrations , was given to patients at enrolment and returned by mail to the study center or collected at the first follow-up appointment one month later. A more detailed description of the structure and organization of the 169 food item FFQ and inclusion/exclusion criteria for this sub-study have been given previously . Briefly, the usual daily intake of n-3 LCPUFAs during the last year was estimated based on FFQ reported food items and supplements containing EPA, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, 22:5n-3), and DHA. Calculations were made by using a database and a software system developed at the Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo (Kostberegningssystem, version 3.2; University of Oslo, Norway) .
Assessment of other covariates
Demographic, clinical, and routine laboratory data were obtained by study personnel at the respective two study centers as previously described . Serum samples were collected before angiography and stored at −80°C until analysis, while standard blood laboratory parameters were analyzed from fresh samples according to routine protocols at their central hospital laboratories. Reagent kits of type Tina-quant® on apolipoprotein A-I (Apo A-I, ver.2), apolipoprotein B (Apo B, ver.2), and C-reactive protein (latex, high sensitive assay) were obtained from Roche Diagnostics (Mannheim, Germany), and serum measurements were done on the Hitachi 917 system (Roche Diagnostics). HbA1c was determined by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry  and plasma cotinine by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry at BEVITAL AS (http://www.bevital.no, Bergen, Norway). Serum FA methyl esters were obtained and analyzed by gas–liquid chromatography as previously described . Smokers included self-reported current smokers, those reported having quit within the last four weeks, and patients with plasma cotinine ≥85 nmol/L. Left ventricular ejection fraction was determined by ventriculography or echocardiography, and values <50% were considered equaling impaired systolic function. Estimated glomerular filtration rate was calculated applying the equation by the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration . Extent of CAD was graded as clinically non-significant stenosis (luminal narrowing <50%), or as having single-, double-, or triple vessel disease.
Endpoints and follow-up
The endpoints in this study were fatal and non-fatal AMI, classified according to the diagnostic criteria of the revised definition of myocardial infarction from 2000 . Procedure-related non-fatal AMI occurring ≤24 hours after coronary angiography, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) were excluded. Information on AMIs was collected from the Western Norway Cardiovascular Registry and from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry. Endpoints were recorded during in-trial and post-trial follow-up until 31 December 2006, and all events were adjudicated by members of the WENBIT endpoints committee.
Categorization of the participants was based on established diagnostic criteria for no-, pre-, and overt diabetes mellitus . Participants were thus classified as non-diabetic (no prior history of diabetes and HbA1c <5.7%), pre-diabetic (no prior history of diabetes and HbA1c ≥5.7%), and diabetic (previously diagnosed diabetes or fasting baseline serum glucose ≥7.0 or a non-fasting glucose ≥11.1 mmol/L). Means (± standard deviation (SD)) or medians (25th, 75th percentile) and proportions of various clinical and biochemical parameters were calculated for selected baseline characteristics and dietary variables within each category. Simple comparisons of continuous variables within or between sub-groups were made by the t-test. Spearman’s rank correlation was used to assess associations between various continuous parameters. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to examine the continuous FA variables for normal distribution. Variables that were not normally distributed were log-transformed. Estimated marginal means (95% confidence interval (CI)) of FA profile were calculated for each sub-group by one-way analysis of covariance, with adjustments made for age, sex, and statin dose. Post-hoc comparisons were made by using the Tukey honestly significant difference for specifying between-group differences in FA composition as assessed by analysis of covariance.
Participants within each group were ranked into tertiles according to combined daily n-3 LCPUFA (EPA, DPA, and DHA) intake as percentage of total energy (%TE) intake. Survival curves were created for follow-up until the 95th percentile of follow-up time (corresponding to 6.8 years) using the Kaplan-Meier method. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CI were estimated by Cox proportional hazards modeling. Tests for trend were performed using estimated daily n-3 LCPUFA tertiles as a continuous variable in otherwise identical models. The basic model included age and sex. Additional covariates in the multivariate model were selected on the basis of clinical relevance and included the following: fasting (dichotomous), current smoking (dichotomous) , extent of CAD (non-significant; single-, double-, or triple-vessel disease), left ventricular ejection fraction (continuous), serum triglycerides (continuous), baseline acute coronary syndrome (dichotomous), baseline PCI (dichotomous), baseline CABG (dichotomous), and randomization to treatment with folic acid or vitamin B6 study medication (dichotomous). Interactions between intake of n-3 LCPUFAs and diabetes were tested by adding interaction product terms in the model. Additional adjustments for the following covariates did not appreciably alter the results and were not included in the final model: body mass index (continuous); current use of statins, β-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, metformin, sulfonamides, and insulin (dichotomous for all); history of hypertension (dichotomous); and apolipoprotein A-I and B, HbA1c, or C-reactive protein (continuous for all).
Statistics were performed using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, version 19 (SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA) and R version 2.15.2 (R Development Core Team, Vienna, Austria). Two-sided P-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant.
Baseline characteristics and dietary intakes
At baseline, the mean age of the participants was 61.6 years and 80.4% were men. Further, 84.6% had stable angina pectoris. A total of 46.6% were treated for hypertension and 31.1% were current smokers. A previous myocardial infarction was reported in 41.3%, PCI in 21.5%, and CABG in 14.0% of the patients. On baseline coronary angiography, 11.2% were diagnosed with non-significant CAD, and 32.0% had three-vessel disease. At discharge from hospital, 90.1% of the participants were treated with aspirin, 22.7% with calcium channel blockers, and 9.3% with loop diuretics. A total of 1,577 patients (66.3%) underwent myocardial revascularization with either PCI or CABG. There were 1,012 patients (42.6%) classified as non-diabetic, 1,049 (44.1%) classified as pre-diabetic, and 317 (13.3%) classified as diabetic, of whom 16 (0.7%) had type 1 and 301 (12.7%) type 2 diabetes.
Baseline characteristics of participants (n = 2,378)
Non-diabetes HbA1c <5.7%
n = 1,012
Pre-diabetes HbA1c ≥5.7%
n = 1,049
n = 317
Male sex (n (%))
Body mass index (kg/m2)
Coronary history (n (%))
Percutaneous coronary intervention
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery
Coronary risk factors (n (%))
Apolipoprotein A-I (g/L)
Apolipoprotein B (g/L)
Inflammation markers and renal function
C-reactive protein (mg/L)f
1.76 (0.85, 3.68)
1.85 (0.89, 4.23)
2.07 (1.00, 4.40)
Estimated glomerular filtration rate (mL/min)
LVEF and severity of coronary artery disease at baseline angiography (n (%))
Medication at discharge from hospital (n (%))
Other anti-diabetic drugs
Estimated daily dietary intakes
Total fat (%TE)
Saturated and trans fat (%TE)
Monounsaturated fat (%TE)
Polyunsaturated fat (%TE)
n-6 PUFAs (g)g
n-3 PUFAs (g)h
n-3 LCPUFAs (g)i
n-3 LCPUFAs (%TE)i
Use of dietary supplements (n (%))
Cod liver oil
Dietary intake of n-3 LCPUFAs and fish
Mean (±SD) daily dietary intakes of n-3 LCPUFAs among all 2,378 participants were 0.43 ±0.24, 1.08 ±0.37, and 2.38 ±1.15 g/day for tertiles 1 to 3 of n-3 LCPUFA, respectively. Adjusted for energy intake, this corresponded to 0.18 ±0.08, 0.45 ±0.09, and 1.03 ±0.40 %TE, respectively. Mean (±SD) intakes of n-3 LCPUFAs (%TE) were 0.56 ±0.44 for non-diabetic, 0.54 ±0.40 for pre-diabetic, and 0.60 ±0.46 for diabetic patients. Intakes were higher among diabetic patients compared to pre-diabetic patients (P = 0.04). Tertiles of mean (±SD) daily intakes according to the sub-groups were 0.17 ±0.08, 0.44 ±0.09, and 1.05 ±0.42 %TE for non-diabetic patients; 0.18 ±0.08, 0.44 ±0.08, and 0.98 ±0.38 %TE for pre-diabetic patients; and 0.19 ±0.08, 0.48 ±0.11, and 1.12 ±0.42 %TE for patients with diabetes. Total daily fish intake (mean ±SD) in tertiles 1 to 3 was 47.7 ±19.0, 98.0 ±13.7, and 180.7 ±62.1 g/day, respectively.
Serum fatty acid profile
Serum fatty acid profile in percentage by weight (wt%) measured in 723 participants
Non-diabetes HbA1c <5.7%
n = 380
Pre-diabetes HbA1c ≥5.7%
n = 259
n = 84
Total FAs (mg/L)
3,790 (3,680 to 3,900)c
3,680 (3,560 to 3,810)
4,050 (3,820 to 4,300)
33.2 (32.9 to 33.4)
33.2 (32.9 to 33.5)
34.0 (33.5 to 34.5)
22.9 (22.5 to 23.2)
23.2 (22.7 to 23.6)
24.0 (23.2 to 24.8)
35.0 (34.4 to 35.5)
34.5 (33.9 to 35.2)
32.8 (31.8 to 33.9)
7.2 (7.0 to 7.5)
7.4 (7.1 to 7.8)
7.2 (6.6 to 7.8)
0.71 (0.69 to 0.73)
0.73 (0.70 to 0.75)
0.72 (0.68 to 0.77)
1.80 (1.68 to 1.92)
1.91 (1.76 to 2.07)
1.78 (1.54 to 2.05)
Docosapentaenoic acid (n-3)
0.62 (0.60 to 0.63)
0.63 (0.61 to 0.65)
0.62 (0.58 to 0.65)
3.69 (3.56 to 3.82)
3.73 (3.58 to 3.90)
3.63 (3.37 to 3.91)
n-3 PUFA / n-6 PUFA ratio
0.21 (0.20 to 0.22)
0.22 (0.20 to 0.23)
0.22 (0.20 to 0.24)
Follow-up and events
Mean (±SD) length of follow-up was 4.8 ±1.4 years. A total of 208 participants (8.7%) experienced a fatal or non-fatal AMI. The incidence of AMI was 7.6% for non-diabetic, 8.4% for pre-diabetic, and 13.6% for diabetic patients.
Intake of n-3 LCPUFAs and risk of acute myocardial infarction
Risk of total acute myocardial infarction by dietary n-3 LCPUFA (as a percentage of total energy intake) and fish (grams) tertiles
Non-diabetes (HbA1c <5.7%, n = 1,012)
Pre-diabetes (HbA1c ≥5.7%, n = 1,049)
Diabetes (n = 317)a
Number of events
1.12 (0.63, 2.02)
0.93 (0.49, 1.77)
1.16 (0.69 to 1.95)
1.20 (0.70, 2.06)
0.43 (0.21, 0.88)
0.48 (0.22, 1.06)
1.45 (0.84, 2.53)
1.55 (0.87, 2.76)
1.16 (0.69, 1.95)
1.33 (0.77, 2.28)
0.38 (0.18, 0.80)
0.38 (0.17, 0.83)
P for trend
1.68 (0.97, 2.89)
1.51 (0.84, 2.72)
0.85 (0.50, 1.44)
0.88 (0.51, 1.52)
0.87 (0.44, 1.71)
0.94 (0.45, 1.98)
1.02 (0.55, 1.88)
1.19 (0.63, 2.27)
1.05 (0.63, 1.74)
1.10 (0.65, 1.85)
0.56 (0.26, 1.24)
0.66 (0.29, 1.53)
P for trend
Conventional criteria on diagnosing diabetes by blood glucose rely on two separate measurements . Since 59 patients were included in the diabetes group based on baseline glucose from one single measurement, we did a separate sensitivity analysis among the 258 patients who were diagnosed with diabetes prior to baseline examination, and this did not change the results (data not shown). Because patients with diabetes tended to have an increased n-3 LCPUFA intake compared to the others, we repeated the analysis on the diabetes sub-group using tertiles based on the total population. This analysis provided similar results (data not shown). There was an interaction between diabetes and n-3 LCPUFA in a multivariate adjusted interaction analysis (P for interaction = 0.02). Adjusting for study treatment with B vitamins according to the WENBIT study design did not materially affect any of the results.
Risk of acute myocardial infarction (separate fatal and non-fatal) by dietary n-3 LCPUFA tertiles (as a percentage of total energy intake)
Non-diabetes (HbA1c <5.7%, n = 1,012)
Pre-diabetes (HbA1c ≥5.7%, n = 1,049)
Diabetes (n = 317)a
Fatal AMI (events)
1.98 (0.36, 10.82)
1.85 (0.56, 6.15)
0.39 (0.13, 1.15)
4.79 (1.05, 21.90)
1.84 (0.56, 6.13)
0.22 (0.06, 0.81)
P for trend
Non-fatal AMI (events)
1.03 (0.55 to 1.93)
1.04 (0.58 to 1.87)
0.45 (0.17 to 1.20)
1.10 (0.60 to 2.04)
1.04 (0.58 to 1.86)
0.52 (0.20 to 1.32)
P for trend
Post hoc comparisons within the non-diabetic group revealed that HbA1c was lower in tertiles 2 (P = 0.008) and 3 (P = 0.01), compared to tertile 1 of n-3 LCPUFA intakes (mean ±SD 4.87 ±0.62 and 4.87 ±0.65 versus 4.99 ±0.54). Furthermore, patients without diabetes who experienced an AMI did also have a lower HbA1c than those who did not have an AMI event (mean ±SD 4.77 ±0.63 versus 4.92 ±0.60, P = 0.04). This association was more pronounced among those who had a fatal AMI event (mean ±SD 4.55 ±0.68 versus 4.92 ±0.60, P = 0.02). No such differences were observed in those with pre-diabetes or diabetes.
The main finding in this observational cohort study among patients with established CAD was that a high intake of n-3 LCPUFAs was associated with a reduced risk of total AMI, independent of HbA1c, in patients with diabetes, but with an increased risk of fatal AMI and with lower HbA1c in those without impaired glucose metabolism.
One of the strengths of this study was its large, well-characterized population with long-term follow-up and extensive dietary information. Data are scarce on the association between dietary intake of n-3 LCPUFA and AMI in statin-treated patients with CAD, since most previous studies have based their results on circulating n-3 LCPUFAs and many investigations have been performed in groups that did not receive statins. This study helps address this gap in data. All endpoints in the current study were validated by a committee blinded to the dietary information.
This study also had certain limitations. Our study had limited power to detect significant effects due to the smaller sample size of sub-groups and the low event rate primarily in the non-diabetes group. Furthermore, FFQs were not checked for errors when received at the study center, and participants with extreme values or partially missing reported intakes were excluded ahead of this sub-study. The remaining data were considered valid, as dietary intakes were comparable to previous surveys in the region using the same questionnaire . Information on dietary habits was collected at baseline, reflecting the average intake during the past year, whereas no information on dietary habits was collected during follow-up. Thus, there is a possibility of a regression dilution bias, which probably would have strengthened rather than attenuated the results. Despite careful adjustments for available important covariates, prospective cohort studies are typically limited by confounding from both unmeasured and inappropriately measured factors.
Similar to our previous investigation , a study among post-AMI patients did not report any overall relations between n-3 LCPUFAs and cardiovascular events . However, in accordance with our current results, a post hoc analysis among participants with diabetes revealed a strong decline in ventricular arrhythmia-related events and fatal AMI with increased n-3 LCPUFA intake . Other studies have also indicated that a high intake may reduce the risk of non-fatal AMI [33–36]. A recent study concluded that n-3 PUFA supplementation might have the ability to reduce cardiovascular events in patients not treated with statins , whereas no additional benefits were observed among statin users . The majority of patients in the present study were treated with statins. Thus, our data indicate that n-3 LCPUFA intake is associated with AMI risk, and particularly fatal events, also in statin users.
The main question is whether our findings are observed by chance or report real effects of n-3 LCPUFA intake. No effects of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation were revealed in the large ORIGIN study among dysglycemic patients . These participants had a low baseline dietary intake of n-3 LCPUFAs, and even after receiving study treatment, daily n-3 LCPUFA intake was only about half compared to those having the highest intakes in our population. Additionally, olive oil was used as placebo in ORIGIN as well as in several other randomized trials . This oil contains various FAs, and its use as placebo may thus have influenced the results. Furthermore, participants in ORIGIN had a median HbA1c of 6.4%, whereas patients with diabetes in the current study had a median HbA1c of 7.2%. Patients with HbA1c ≥9.0% were excluded from ORIGIN, whereas those with fasting plasma glucose ≥6.1 mmol/L were included. In a separate analysis in our cohort, we included all patients with HbA1c ≥6.5% together with the patients diagnosed with diabetes, which attenuated the results. Based on these considerations, the diabetes group in our study differs clearly from the dysglycemic patients in ORIGIN, having a similar average HbA1c as in our sub-group of patients with pre-diabetes where no association with n-3 LCPUFA was observed. Notably, the ACCORD study among patients with diabetes having baseline median HbA1c 8.1% demonstrated adverse effects with an increased mortality after aggressive glucose lowering treatment . Thus, the overall intensive glucose lowering in ORIGIN may also have influenced outcome following n-3 LCPUFA supplementation.
Dietary n-3 LCPUFAs are predominantly present in fish and seafood, in which oily fish is a major source. Existing international guidelines recommend an n-3 LCPUFA intake of at least 250 mg/day or two servings of oily fish per week . Despite the observed associations between dietary n-3 LCPUFAs and AMI risk, no clear associations could be seen for fish intake. This might be explained by a frequent use of cod liver and/or fish oils among those having the highest intakes of n-3 LCPUFAs, with 70% using such supplements in the upper tertile (data not shown). Even though n-3 LCPUFA supplements like cod liver and fish oils were frequently used, fish consumption was also relatively high in this cohort. Thus, we cannot exclude that other fish ingredients may have influenced the results.
Another prominent finding in the present study was the strong association between a high intake of n-3 LCPUFAs and fatal AMI in patients without diabetes with HbA1c <5.7%. Dietary intake of high-dose n-3 LCPUFA has also in some previous studies been associated with adverse effects. A study in South Wales on male patients with angina pectoris revealed an increased risk of cardiac death among participants advised to eat oily fish or fish oil capsules . Furthermore, a canine model showed a pro-arrhythmic effect after high-dose n-3 PUFA supplementation in dogs not originally vulnerable to ischemia .
Through a post hoc comparison within the non-diabetic group, we demonstrated an overall lower HbA1c in those having the highest intake of n-3 LCPUFAs and in those who experienced a fatal AMI compared to the other individuals within the non-diabetic group. A previous prospective cohort study demonstrated an increased risk of all-cause death among individuals with HbA1c <5.0% (no diabetes) . A link has been demonstrated between hypoglycemia, endothelial dysfunction, and increased oxidative stress , which could produce a certain metabolic profile. Accordingly, high-dose fish oil supplementation has also been associated with increased oxidative damage in rats . In view of our own observations, it is curious to note that when fasted, dienoyl-CoA reductase (Decr) null mutant mice develop hypoglycemia and accumulate PUFAs in their tissues, indicating an impaired mitochondrial β-oxidation . This may further suggest a reverse relationship between PUFAs and blood glucose in fasted individuals. Our findings could imply that high-dose n-3 LCPUFA consumption among patients without diabetes or impairment of glucose tolerance might reduce overall blood glucose and increase the risk of fatal AMI. Notably, no association was seen between HbA1c and the n-3 LCPUFA effects among patients with diabetes.
Altogether, additional studies are needed to validate our findings and further elucidate mechanisms behind the observed associations. Based on future research, it should be concluded whether it is time for a reassessment of the current dietary advices on n-3 LCPUFAs in secondary prevention of CAD .
In this cohort of patients with established CAD, a high intake of n-3 LCPUFAs was associated with reduced risk of AMI, independent of HbA1c, in patients with diabetes. In patients without diabetes, a high intake was associated with increased risk of fatal AMI and lower HbA1c. These findings should motivate further studies on potential beneficial or adverse effects of a high n-3 LCPUFA intake in sub-groups of patients with CAD.
Percentage of total energy
Acute myocardial infarction
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery
Coronary artery disease
Docosapentaenoic acid (n-3)
Food frequency questionnaire
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid
Percutaneous coronary intervention
Western Norway B-Vitamin Intervention Trial
Percentage by weight.
We thank all WENBIT coworkers at Haukeland and Stavanger University Hospitals. Especially, we thank Dr Marta Ebbing for having collected and verified WENBIT data and endpoints. We also thank the staff at the Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo, for help with extracting the dietary data. We are grateful to Liv Kristine Øysæd, Kari Helland Mortensen, Randi Sandvik, and Marte Aanestad for excellent technical assistance during FA composition analyses. Funding of this project was provided by the Advanced Research Program and Research Council of Norway; the Department of Heart Disease at Haukeland University Hospital; the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation; the Norwegian Heart and Lung Patient Organization; the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services; the Western Norway Regional Health Authority; MitoHealth; and the University of Bergen. The main sponsors were nonprofit organizations with no participating role in the trial. JEN, DWTN, RKB, and ON obtained funding.
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