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Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2012 Apr;5(2):273-8. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.111.967661. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Nonesterified fatty acids and risk of sudden cardiac death in older adults.

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Division of Aging, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Boston Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02120, USA.



Although nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) have been positively associated with coronary heart disease risk factors, limited and inconsistent data are available on the relation between NEFA and sudden cardiac death.


Using a prospective design, we studied 4657 older men and women (mean age, 75 years) from the Cardiovascular Health Study (1992-2006) to evaluate the association between plasma NEFA and the risk of sudden cardiac death in older adults. Plasma concentrations of NEFA were measured using established enzymatic methods, and sudden death was adjudicated using medical records, death certificates, proxy interview, and autopsy reports. We used Cox proportional hazard models to estimate multivariable-adjusted relative risks. During a median follow-up of 10.0 years, 221 new cases of sudden cardiac death occurred. In a multivariable model adjusting for age, sex, race, clinic site, alcohol intake, smoking, prevalent coronary heart disease and heart failure, and self-reported health status, relative risks (95% confidence interval) for sudden cardiac death were 1.0 (ref), 1.15 (0.81-1.64), 1.06 (0.72-1.55), and 0.91 (0.60-1.38) across consecutive quartiles of NEFA concentration. In secondary analyses restricted to the first 5 years of follow-up, we also did not observe a statistically significant association between plasma NEFA and sudden cardiac death.


Our data do not provide evidence for an association between plasma NEFA measured late in life and the risk of sudden cardiac death in older adults.

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