PAD is a disease that affects the blood vessels outside the heart and brain. Evidence from other studies suggests that omega-3s affect many steps of the atherosclerotic process. More specifically, they improve endothelial function; promote vasodilatation through relaxation of smooth muscle cells; exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antithrombotic actions; delay development of plaques and increase their stability; and decrease wall stiffening.
Because PAD is essentially atherosclerosis of the leg arteries, researchers in this study believe that patients with PAD may have an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency.
To study the relationship between the Omega-3 Index and PAD, the investigators compared the Omega-3 Index in 145 patients with PAD to 34 controls without PAD.
They found that the Omega-3 Index was significantly lower in the PAD patients than the controls (5% vs 6%). When they controlled for other patient characteristics that might have influenced these findings (like age, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, drugs, etc.), the Omega-3 Index was still lower in the cases vs. the controls.
In the final analysis, for every 1% unit reduction in the Omega-3 Index, the odds of being a PAD patient increased by 39%, and for every additional pack-year of smoking the odds of being a PAD case increased by 4%.
"It is likely that the lower inflammatory burden associated with a higher Omega-3 Index may be part of the explanation for these results," said Bill Harris, Ph.D., one of the study's authors. "Whether long-term use of omega-3 supplements and/or increased consumption of oily fish could prevent the development of PAD should be examined in future studies."
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About OmegaQuant: OmegaQuant is an independent, CLIA-certified lab that offers Omega-3 Index testing to researchers, clinicians and the public and sets the standard for fatty acid testing. OmegaQuant performs fatty acid analysis in Sioux Falls, SD for commercial and academic research collaborators, and for consumers interested in monitoring their nutritional status in both blood and breast milk. Its goal is to offer the highest quality fatty acid analytical services to researchers and to provide simple tests of nutritional status to consumers, with the ultimate purpose of advancing the science and use of omega-3 fatty acids to improve health. Most recently, it opened an additional lab in Brisbane, Australia. It also recently received approval in the EU market and opened a lab in Scotland, officially making the Omega-3 Index an internationally accessible test.