Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease

Patients with heart disease who had higher levels of marine omega-3 fatty acid showed less telomere shortening over the period of this study, and possibly better cardiovascular disease survival rates.

Heart disease patients in the Heart and Soul Study in the Bay Area of California were examined between September 2000 and December 2002 and then again in January 2009 to see the relationship between omega–3 fatty acid blood levels and leukocyte telomere length. Telomere length is emerging as a novel marker of biological age independent of chronological age, and shorter telomere length is associated with cardiovascular morbidity.

At baseline, participants provided information on age, sex, cardiovascular comorbidities, income, education, race and medication use. They took a treadmill test and electrocardiogram, and received blood tests for cholesterol and other biomarkers. Participants were grouped by quartile according to their marine omega-3 fatty acid levels, At follow-up, those in the lowest quartile had experienced the greatest decrease in telomere length, while those in the highest quartile had less telomere attrition over the study period.

Since the study sample comprised mostly men with coronary artery disease who may be particularly responsive to the effects of omega-3 fatty acid, the findings may not be generalizable to other demographic groups.