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J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Mar;104(3):410-9; quiz 492.

Dietary fatty acids, hemostasis, and cardiovascular disease risk.

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Division of Functional Foods Research, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808-4124, USA.


The cause of many myocardial infarctions is occlusive thrombosis, or a blood clot that stops blood flow in a coronary artery. Hemostasis involves a complex system of factors, which normally form and degrade blood clots, that work within a delicate balance. Emerging evidence suggests that some hemostatic factors, including factor VII, fibrinogen, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Accumulating evidence suggests a relationship between dietary fatty acids and emerging hemostatic CVD risk factors, although much of this evidence is incomplete or conflicting. Dietary supplementation with marine n-3 fatty acids prolongs bleeding time and may decrease risk for thrombosis. Factor VII coagulant activity modestly decreases with reductions in saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake and thereby may contribute to the beneficial effects of low SFA diets. Large triglyceride-rich particles formed during postprandial lipemia can support the assembly and function of coagulation complexes and seem to play a role in the activation of factor VII, and thus may partially explain increased CVD risk associated with increased postprandial triglyceridemia. As our understanding of the role of dietary fatty acids and hemostasis evolves, it is likely that we will be able to make specific dietary recommendations to further decrease CVD risk. At this juncture, however, increasing marine n-3 fatty acids and decreasing certain SFAs are leading strategies to reduce hemostatic CVD risk factors. An array of dietary strategies that target multiple CVD risk factors could have a greater impact on CVD than a single risk factor intervention strategy.

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