Erythrocyte n-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular outcomes and total mortality in the framingham heart study

William S. Harris, Nathan L. Tintle, Vasan S. Ramachandran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: The prognostic value of erythrocyte levels of n-6 fatty acids (FAs) for total mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes remains an open question. Methods: We examined cardiovascular (CV) outcomes and death in 2500 individuals in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort without prevalent CVD (mean age 66 years, 57% women) as a function of baseline levels of different length n-6 FAs (18 carbon, 20 carbon, and 22 carbon) in the erythrocyte membranes. Clinical outcomes were monitored for up to 9.5 years (median follow up, 7.26 years). Cox proportional hazards models were adjusted for a variety of demographic characteristics, clinical status, and red blood cell (RBC) n-6 and long chain n-3 FA content. Results: There were 245 CV events, 119 coronary heart disease (CHD) events, 105 ischemic strokes, 58 CVD deaths, and 350 deaths from all causes. Few associations between either mortality or CVD outcomes were observed for n-6 FAs, with those that were observed becoming non-significant after adjusting for n-3 FA levels. Conclusions: Higher circulating levels of marine n-3 FA levels are associated with reduced risk for incident CVD and ischemic stroke and for death from CHD and all-causes; however, in the same sample little evidence exists for association with n-6 FAs. Further work is needed to identify a full profile of FAs associated with cardiovascular risk and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2012
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 19 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Arachidonic acid
  • Epidemiology
  • Linoleic acid
  • N-3 fatty acids
  • N-6 fatty acids
  • Prospective cohort study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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