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Stroke. 1995 May;26(5):778-82.

Serum fatty acids and the risk of stroke.

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General Internal Medicine Section (111A1), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.



To examine the relationship between serum fatty acids, which reflect dietary intake, and stroke, we conducted a nested case-control study of 96 men with incident stroke and 96 control subjects matched by age, clinical center, treatment group, and date of randomization who were enrolled in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial.


After confirming the stability of the stored serum samples, we measured serum cholesterol ester and phospholipid fatty acid levels as the percentage of total fatty acids by gas-liquid chromatography and examined their association with incident stroke. Using stepwise conditional logistic regression that controlled for risk factors for stroke, we determined which fatty acids were independent correlates of stroke.


In univariate models, a standard deviation (SD) increase (1.37%) in phospholipid stearic acid (18:0) was associated with a 37% increase in the risk of stroke, whereas an SD increase (0.06%) in phospholipid omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (18:3) was associated with a 28% decrease in the risk of stroke (all P < .05). Only alpha-linolenic acid in the cholesterol ester fraction was associated with the risk of stroke in multivariate models: an SD increase (0.13%) in the serum level of alpha-linolenic acid was associated with a 37% decrease in the risk of stroke (P < .05). Systolic blood pressure and cigarette smoking were also independently associated with stroke risk.


Our findings suggest that higher serum levels of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid are independently associated with a lower risk of stroke in middle-aged men at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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