Omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels are reduced in whole blood of Italian patients with a recent myocardial infarction: the AGE-IM study

Atherosclerosis. 2014 Feb;232(2):334-8. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.11.048. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


Objective: The relationship between whole blood fatty acids and myocardial infarction (MI) risk has not been analyzed in detail, especially in Mediterranean countries. The AGE-IM (Acidi Grassi Essenziali e Infarto Miocardico) study was planned to examine the relationships between MI, whole blood fatty acids and the diet in an Italian cohort.

Methods: 119 Patients with a recent MI and 103 control subjects were enrolled in the study. The whole blood fatty acid composition was determined; information on anthropometrics, biochemical parameters and blood pressure values were also obtained. Diet composition was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire from 86 cases and 72 controls.

Results: Total PUFA, omega-6 and omega-3 PUFA (as percentage of whole blood fatty acids) were significantly lower in MI patients than in matched controls, whereas saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids were higher in cases. MI infarction risk significantly and steadily decreased with increasing levels of total PUFA (OR: 0.14) and of total omega-6 and omega-3 (OR: 0.15 and 0.37, respectively). No correlation was identified between dietary fats and MI risk or between whole blood fatty acid levels and dietary nutrients and fats.

Conclusion: Percentage levels of total PUFA, total omega-3 PUFA and total omega-6 PUFA are lower in MI patients than in matched control subjects in the AGE-IM cohort. These data support a favorable association not only of whole blood percentage levels of total omega-3, but also of total omega-6, with cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: Coronary heart disease risk; Fatty acid profile; Myocardial infarction; Polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Pressure
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / blood*
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6