British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Erythrocyte fatty acid profiles can predict acute non-fatal myocardial infarction

Yongsoon Parka1 c1, Jeehyun Lima1, Jaeung Leea2 and Soon-gil Kima2

a1 Department of Food and Nutrition, Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea

a2 Cardiology Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Hanyang University Kuri Hospital, Kuri, South Korea


The risk of CHD has been linked to n-3 and trans-fatty acids. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the hypothesis that lower n-3 fatty acids and higher trans-fatty acids in erythrocytes are associated with an increased risk of acute non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI), and that fatty acid profiles can discriminate MI cases from controls. Fifty cases with acute non-fatal MI and fifty age- and sex-matched controls without MI were recruited. The Omega-3 Index (the sum of EPA and DHA in erythrocytes) was significantly lower in cases than controls (9·57 (sem 0·28) v. 11·81 (sem 0·35) %; P < 0·001), while total trans-fatty acids were significantly higher (1·01 (sem 0·04) v. 0·56 (sem 0·03) %; P < 0·001). The Omega-3 Index was associated with decreased risk of MI (OR 0·08 (95 % CI 0·02, 0·38); P = 0·001), while total trans-fatty acids were associated with an increased risk of MI (OR 72·67 (95 % CI 6·68, 790·74); P < 0·001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of fatty acid profiles was larger than that for traditional risk factors, suggesting that fatty acid profiles make a higher contribution to the discrimination of MI cases from controls compared with modified Framingham risk factors. In conclusion, a higher Omega-3 Index and lower trans-fatty acids in erythrocytes are associated with a decreased risk of MI. Furthermore, fatty acid profiles improve discrimination of acute non-fatal MI compared with established risk factors.

(Received January 27 2009)

(Revised April 11 2009)

(Accepted April 24 2009)

(Online publication June 09 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor Yongsoon Park, fax +82 02 2292 1226, email


Abbreviations: ALA, α-linolenic acid; MI, myocardial infarction; Omega-3 Index, sum of EPA and DHA in erythrocytes