In a new finding from the Framingham Heart Study, Omega-3 levels, not total cholesterol, were closely linked to overall risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death.
Findings from the 2,500 individuals participating in the Offspring cohort of the Framingham Heart Study, found that participants Omega-3 index had a significant association with 4 out of the 5 major outcomes, CHD (coronary heart disease) CVD, total mortality, and CVD mortality.
The Omega-3 index used for these findings is the total of EPA and DHA content of red blood cell (RBC) membranes. Omega-3 index values over 8% were considered as low risk or optimal, while index values between 4% – 8% were categorized as intermediate risk and values below 4% were considered to be high risk participants.
The main outcome of the finding identified the risk of death to be about 34% lower in participants whose Omega-3 index was in the highest quintile compared to participants whose Omega-3 index was in the lowest quintile. Additionally it was determined that a participants Omega-3 index was a better predictor of death risk as well as some measures of CVD disease, than a participants total cholesterol levels.
The study participants who had an average age of 66 had no CVD at the beginning of the study. Data on 18 demographic and CVD risk factors were assessed at baseline and measurements of RBC EPA and DHA and total cholesterol were taken at the onset. Follow ups on the study participants over a period of 7 years were performed. Incidence of death (total, CVD related, cancer and other), CVD, CHD, and stroke were recorded. These outcomes were then correlated against the participants Omega-3 index and total cholesterol.
Although the study was observational in nature, researchers did estimate that 1300 mg /day of EPA+DHA would be needed to push a participants Omega-3 index from the lowest to the highest quintile. Further studies are needed.
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