Long-Chain n-3 Fatty Acids Affect Sudden Cardiac Death Risk

During the first year of receiving hemodialysis, patients with higher levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids are at lower risk of sudden cardiac death, reports a study in Kidney International.

The study included a nationally representative cohort of patients from more than 1000 hemodialysis units in 2004 to 2005. The researchers identified 100 cases of sudden cardiac death within the first year after the patients had started dialysis, along with 300 patients who survived the first year. The risk of sudden cardiac death was compared for patients in differing quartiles of long-chain n-3 fatty acid level during their first year of receiving dialysis.

Baseline long-chain n-3 fatty acid level was inversely associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death, even after adjustment for comorbid diseases, biochemical variables, and dietary fats. In comparison with the lowest quartile of long-chain n-3 fatty acids, the odds ratios for sudden cardiac death were 0.37 in the second quartile, 0.22 in the third quartile, and 0.20 in the fourth quartile. The protective effect was apparent even during the first few months of dialysis, when the risk of sudden cardiac death is highest.

Experimental and clinical studies suggest that long-chain n-3 fatty acids may protect against sudden cardiac death, the leading cause of death in hemodialysis patients. The new analysis suggests that long-chain n-3 fatty acids are “strongly and independently” associated with risk of sudden cardiac death during the first year of hemodialysis. The authors call for a randomized controlled trial of long-chain n-3 fatty acid supplementation for hemodialysis patients [Friedman AN, et al. Inverse relationship between long-chain n-3 fatty acids and risk of sudden cardiac death in patients starting hemodialysis. Kidney Int 2013; 83:1130–1135].

July 2013 (Vol. 5, Number 7)