Heart rate is associated with red blood cell fatty acid concentration: The Genetics of Coronary Artery Disease in Alaska Natives (GOCADAN) study

Sven O.E. Ebbesson, Richard B. Devereux, Shelley Cole, Lars O.E. Ebbesson, Richard R. Fabsitz, Karin Haack, William S. Harris, Wm James Howard, Sandra Laston, Juan Carlos Lopez-Alvarenga, Jean W. MacCluer, Peter M. Okin, M. Elizabeth Tejero, V. Saroja Voruganti, Charlotte R. Wenger, Barbara V. Howard, Anthony G. Comuzzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Consumption of ω-3 fatty acids (FAs) is associated with a reduction in deaths from coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, and sudden death. Although these FAs were originally thought to be antiatherosclerotic, recent evidence suggests that their benefits are related to reducing risk for ventricular arrhythmia and that this may be mediated by a slowed heart rate (HR). Methods: The study was conducted in Alaskan Eskimos participating in the Genetics of Coronary Artery Disease in Alaska Natives (GOCADAN) Study, a population experiencing a dietary shift from unsaturated to saturated fats. We compared HR with red blood cell (RBC) FA content in 316 men and 391 women ages 35 to 74 years. Results: Multivariate linear regression analyses of individual FAs with HR as the dependent variable and specific FAs as covariates revealed negative associations between HR and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3; P = .004) and eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3; P = .009) and positive associations between HR and palmitoleic acid (16:1n-7; P = .021), eicosanoic acid (20:1n9; P = .007), and dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA; 20:3n-6; P = .021). Factor analysis revealed that the ω-3 FAs were negatively associated with HR (P = .003), whereas a cluster of other, non-ω-3 unsaturated FAs (16:1, 20:1, and 20:3) was positively associated. Conclusions: Marine ω-3 FAs are associated with lower HR, whereas palmitoleic and DGLA, previously identified as associated with saturated FA consumption and directly related to cardiovascular mortality, are associated with higher HR. These relations may at least partially explain the relations between ω-3 FAs, ventricular arrhythmia, and sudden death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1020-1025
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican heart journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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