Context: Free fatty acids (FFAs) are associated with several cardiovascular risk factors and exert harmful effects on the myocardium.
Objective: The aim of our study was to elucidate the relationship between FFAs and mortality in subjects who underwent coronary angiography.
Design, setting, and participants: Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health is a prospective cohort study of Caucasians who had undergone coronary angiography at baseline (1997-2000). During a median time of follow-up of 5.38 yr, 513 deaths had occurred among 3315 study participants with measured FFAs.
Main outcome measure: Hazard ratios for mortality according to FFA levels were measured.
Results: At the fourth quartile of FFAs, fully adjusted hazard ratios for death from any cause and cardiovascular causes were 1.58 (P = 0.002) and 1.83 (P = 0.001), respectively. In persons with angiographic coronary artery disease (CAD), stable CAD, and unstable CAD, the predictive value of FFAs was similar to that in the entire cohort, but the association did not attain statistical significance in persons without CAD analyzed separately. FFA levels were not related to the presence of angiographic CAD but were elevated in subjects with unstable CAD, compared with probands with stable CAD. Furthermore, FFAs increased with the severity of heart failure and were positively correlated with N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: FFA levels independently predict all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in subjects with angiographic CAD. A possible diagnostic use of FFAs warrants further studies, but our results may underline the importance of therapeutic approaches to influence FFA metabolism.