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J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(4):288-96. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.874913. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

Influence of polyunsaturated fatty acids on blood pressure, resting heart rate and heart rate variability among French Polynesians.

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a Axe Santé des Populations et Environnement, Centre de Recherche du CHUQ , Quebec , CANADA (B.V., E.D.); Institut Louis Malardé , Papeete , POLYNÉSIE FRANÇAISE (E.S.); École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique, Département épidémiologie et biostatistiques , Paris , FRANCE (E.C.); IRIS , UMR 8156-997, Bobigny , FRANCE (E.C.); Quebec Heart and Lung Institute, Laval Hospital Research Centre (P.P.), Faculty of Pharmacy (P.P.), Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (E.D.), Laval University , Quebec , CANADA.



To analyze the associations between marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and blood pressure (BP), resting heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV) in a population highly exposed to methylmercury through the diet.


Concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in erythrocytes membranes were measured in 180 French Polynesian adults (≥18 years) residing in Tubuai, which is a community with a traditional lifestyle, or Papeete, which has a modern lifestyle. HRV was measured using a 2-hour ambulatory electrocardiogram (Holter). Resting HR and BP were measured using standardized protocols and pulse pressure (PP) was calculated as systolic BP - diastolic BP. The associations between n-3 PUFAs and the dependent variables were studied using simple and multiple linear regressions.


Increasing DHA concentration was associated with lower resting HR (β = -2.57, p = 0.005) and diastolic BP (β = -1.96, p = 0.05) and higher HRV in multivariable models. Specifically, DHA was associated with high frequency (HF; β = 0.19, p = 0.02) and the square root of the mean squared differences of successive R-R intervals (difference between two consecutive R waves; rMSSD; β = 0.08, p = 0.03), which are specific indices of the parasympathetic activity of the autonomic nervous system.


DHA was associated with lower BP and resting HR and higher HRV among French Polynesians who are also exposed to high methylmercury levels.


blood pressure; heart rate variability; methylmercury; n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs); resting heart rate

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