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Lipids. 2001;36 Suppl:S79-82.

n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and coronary thrombosis.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Skejby Hospital, Aarhus N, Denmark.


Studies of Greenland Eskimos showed that a very high intake of marine n-3 fatty acids markedly inhibited platelet reactivity and suggested that intake of these fatty acids might prevent coronary thrombosis. Later studies with lower, more practical doses of n-3 fatty acids also have shown a platelet inhibitory effect of n-3 fatty acids, albeit fairly marginal. Furthermore, n-3 fatty acids have little effect on measures of blood coagulability and may slightly decrease fibrinolysis. In animal models, n-3 fatty acids often have been shown to inhibit thrombosis, but again the doses have tended to be very high. Finally, there has been little effect of (low-dose) n-3 fatty acids in clinical trials in humans on the incidence of myocardial infarction. Overall, there is little evidence for a major antithrombotic effect of practical doses of n-3 fatty acids on coronary thrombosis. This does not exclude a beneficial effect of n-3 fatty acids on coronary heart disease as suggested from clinical trials, but the major effect may be antiarrhythmic rather than antithrombotic.

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