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Postgrad Med. 2019 May;131(4):268-277. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2019.1607414. Epub 2019 May 7.

The eicosapentaenoic acid:arachidonic acid ratio and its clinical utility in cardiovascular disease.

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a California Cardiovascular Institute , Fresno , CA , USA.
b Lipid Clinic , Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation , Oakland , CA , USA.


Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a key anti-inflammatory/anti-aggregatory long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid. Conversely, the omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid (AA) is a precursor to a number of pro-inflammatory/pro-aggregatory mediators. EPA acts competitively with AA for the key cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase enzymes to form less inflammatory products. As a result, the EPA:AA ratio may be a marker of chronic inflammation, with a lower ratio corresponding to higher levels of inflammation. It is now well established that inflammation plays an important role in cardiovascular disease. This review examines the role of the EPA:AA ratio as a marker of cardiovascular disease and the relationship between changes in the ratio (mediated by EPA intake) and changes in cardiovascular risk. Epidemiological studies have shown that a lower EPA:AA ratio is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease, acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction, stroke, chronic heart failure, peripheral artery disease, and vascular disease. Increasing the EPA:AA ratio through treatment with purified EPA has been shown in clinical studies to be effective in primary and secondary prevention of coronary artery disease and reduces the risk of cardiovascular events following percutaneous coronary intervention. The EPA:AA ratio is a valuable predictor of cardiovascular risk. Results from ongoing clinical trials will help to define thresholds for EPA treatment associated with better clinical outcomes.


Eicosapentaenoic acid; arachidonic acid; cardiovascular disease; coronary artery disease; inflammation; long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids; omega 3 fatty acids

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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