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Biomark Med. 2009 Feb;3(1):25-32. doi: 10.2217/17520363.3.1.25.

Use of red blood cell fatty-acid profiles as biomarkers in cardiac disease.

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Preventive Cardiology, Medizinische Klinik & Poliklinik Innenstadt, Ziemssenstr 1, D-80336 M√ľnchen, Germany and, Omegametrix, Am Klopferspitz19, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.


The Omega-3 Index is defined as the percentage of eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid in red blood cell fatty acids, assessed by a standardized methodology. Better than fatty-acid compositions in other compartments, the Omega-3 Index represents a person's status in eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid. An Omega-3 Index less than 4% is associated with a tenfold risk for sudden cardiac death in comparison to an Omega-3 Index greater than 8%. Mechanisms of action are plausible and large-scale intervention studies in humans support causality. A low Omega-3 Index may also be a risk factor for coronary artery disease and for complications of congestive heart failure. Ongoing research will define the value of the Omega-3 Index as a risk factor and treatment parameter more precisely.


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