, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 419-424

Dietary fats and coronary heart disease pathogenesis

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The intake of saturated fat seems to be the main environmental factor for coronary heart disease (CHD). However, decreasing the intake of saturated fat and replacing it in part with linoleic acid in primary or secondary intervention trials did not satisfactorily reduce CHD clinical manifestations. It is only when omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were added to the diet that sudden cardiac death (ALA, EPA plus DHA) and nonfatal myocardial infarction (only ALA) were significantly lowered. The protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids occurs rapidly, within weeks. The mechanism for preventing ventricular fibrillation seems to be through a direct effect on myocytes. The additional effect of ALA on nonfatal myocardial infarction may be through thrombosis, at least partly caused by an effect on platelets.