Background. The association between plasma phospholipid omega-6 levels and cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality is unclear, and discrepancy remains concerning the cardiovascular benefit of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Objective. To determine the associations between plasma phospholipid omega-6 (arachidonic acid (AA), linoleic acid (LA)) and omega-3 levels (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), ALA) with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) measures of left ventricular and aortic dysfunction.
Design. Cross-sectional associations of plasma phospholipid levels with CMR measures of LV mass, LV volumes, ejection fraction, stroke volume, and aortic distensibility were investigated in 1,274 adults from four racial/ethnic groups, aged 45–84 years, free of clinical CVD who underwent CMR at baseline examination.
Results. Results of multivariate analysis adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, gender, BMI, smoking, education, field center, physical activity, systolic blood pressure, total:HDL cholesterol, and total energy intake, showed no statistically significant associations of plasma phospholipid omega-6 or omega-3 levels with CMR measures at the a priori-specified level of p <0.01. However, in women, plasma phospholipid DHA was positively associated with LV mass (beta = 1.89, p = 0.02; p interaction = 0.003). Conversely, a trend for a positive association between plasma phospholipid DHA and ejection fraction was noted in men (beta = 0.009, p = 0.05; p interaction = 0.03).
Conclusions. Results suggest the association between plasma phospholipid DHA and CMR measures of LV mass and ejection fraction vary by gender. Additional research is warranted to clarify the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiac structure and function in women versus men.