Low levels of the omega-3 index are associated with sudden cardiac arrest and remain stable in survivors in the subacute phase

Hildegunn Aarsetoey, Reidun Aarsetoey, Thomas Lindner, Harry Staines, William S. Harris, Dennis W.T. Nilsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


In previous studies, low blood levels of n-3 fatty acids (FA) have been associated with increased risk of cardiac death, and the omega-3 index (red blood cell (RBC) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) expressed as weight percentage of total FA) has recently been proposed as a new risk factor for death from coronary artery disease, especially following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). As blood samples often haven been harvested after the event, the aim of our study was to evaluate the stability of RBC fatty acids following SCA. The total FA profile, including the omega-3 index, was measured three times during the first 48 h in 25 survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), in 15 patients with a myocardial infarction (MI) without SCA and in 5 healthy subjects. We could not demonstrate significant changes in the FA measurements in any of the groups, this also applied to the omega-6/omega-3 ratio and the arachidonic acid (AA)/EPA ratio. Furthermore, we compared the omega-3 index in 14 OHCA-patients suffering their first MI with that of 185 first-time MI-patients without SCA; mean values being 4.59% and 6.48%, respectively (p = 0.002). In a multivariate logistic regression analysis, a 1% increase of the omega-3 index was associated with a 58% (95% CI: 0.25-0.76%) reduction in risk of ventricular fibrillation (VF). In conclusion, the omega-3 index remained stable after an event of SCA and predicted the risk of VF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Fatty acid stability
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Red blood cell membranes
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • The omega-3 index
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • n-3 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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