A recent prospective cohort study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine assessed the associations of plasma phospholipid EPA, DPA, DHA and total long-chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3 PUFA levels) with total and cause-specific mortality among healthy older adults not receiving dietary supplements, and found that higher PUFA intake was linked to lower total mortality, especially coronary heart disease (CHD) related death, in older adults.
In the study, “Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids and Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Older Adults: A Cohort Study,” researchers analyzed 2692 U.S. adults aged 74 years (±5 years) without prevalent CHD, stroke or heart failure at baseline. Phospholipid fatty acid levels and cardiovascular risk factors were measured in the subjects in 1992, and then they examined relationships with total and cause-specific mortality and incident fatal or nonfatal CHD and stroke in subjects through 2008.
Results found that during this time period, 1625 deaths (including 570 cardiovascular deaths), 359 fatal and 371 nonfatal CHD events, and 130 fatal and 276 nonfatal strokes occurred. After adjustment, higher plasma levels of omega 3 PUFA biomarkers were associated with lower total mortality, with extreme-quintile hazard ratios of 0.83 for EPA (95% CI, 0.71 to 0.98; P for trend = 0.005), 0.77 for DPA (CI, 0.66 to 0.90; P for trend = 0.008), 0.80 for DHA (CI, 0.67 to 0.94; P for trend = 0.006), and 0.73 for total omega 3 PUFAs (CI, 0.61 to 0.86; P for trend < 0.001).
Lower risk was largely attributable to fewer cardiovascular than noncardiovascular deaths. Individuals in the highest quintile of phospholipid omega 3 PUFA level lived an average of 2.22 more years (CI, 0.75 to 3.13 years) after age 65 years than did those in the lowest quintile.