(HealthDay News) – Higher circulating long-chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (ω3-PUFA) levels are tied to lower mortality later in life among cardiovascularly healthy adults, according to a study published in the April 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 2,692 U.S. adults aged 74 years (±5 years) who at baseline (1992) did not have prevalent coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, or heart failure. Total and cause-specific mortality as well as incident total CHD and stroke were assessed through 2008.

The researchers found that over the study period there were 1,625 deaths (including 570 cardiovascular deaths), 359 fatal and 371 nonfatal CHD events, and 130 fatal and 276 nonfatal strokes. Higher levels of ω3-PUFA plasma biomarkers were significantly associated with lower total mortality, with extreme-quintile hazard ratios (HRs) of 0.83 for eicosapentaenoic acid, 0.77 for docosapentaenoic acid, 0.80 for docosahexaenoic acid, and 0.73 for total ω3-PUFAs, which was largely attributable to fewer cardiovascular than noncardiovascular deaths. Specifically, there were significantly fewer arrhythmic cardiac deaths (total ω3-PUFAs: HR, 0.52). After age 65, those with the highest quintile of phospholipid ω3-PUFA levels lived an average of 2.22 years longer than those in the lowest quintile.

“Higher circulating individual and total ω3-PUFA levels are associated with lower total mortality, especially CHD death, in older adults,” the authors write.

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