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07-05-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Saturated fatty acids may be protective against PAD


Free abstract

MedWire News: Increased dietary linolenic acid (LNA) intake is associated with higher ankle brachial index (ABI), while increased saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake is associated with lower ABI, show US study findings.

In addition, increased SFA intake is associated with a higher prevalence of peripheral artery disease (PAD) and a trend toward slower gait speed, an important functional consequence of PAD, report Asghar Naqvi (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts) and colleagues.

"To our knowledge, there have been no comprehensive, large-scale studies on classes of fatty acid intake and PAD despite their strong associations with CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk factors and outcomes," they write in Atherosclerosis.

The team therefore examined the association between different fatty acids and the prevalence of PAD in a group of 6352 adults, aged 40 years or older, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2004.

Systolic blood pressure was measured using participants' right arms and both ankles and ABI was then calculated.

Fatty acid intake (g/day) was assessed by a 24-hour dietary recall and the association between intakes of dietary SFAs, monounsaturated fatty acid (MFAs), marine omega-3 fatty acids (N-3), LNA, and omega-6 fatty acids (N-6) and ABI/PAD were estimated.

The researchers report that 489 of the 6352 participants had PAD.

Higher dietary intake of LNA was associated with a higher ABI and higher dietary SFA tended to be associated with lower ABI, after adjustment for multiple confounders. By contrast, no associations between MFA, N-6, and N-3 and ABI were observed.

Further analysis of SFA and LNA revealed that two SFAs, namely hexadecanoic acid (SFA16) and octadecanoic acid (SFA18), were associated with prevalence of PAD.

Each 1-standard deviation increment in SFA16 and SFA18 increased risk for PAD by 40% and 70%, respectively.

The team also evaluated fatty acid classes and gait speed as a consequence of PAD and found that higher SFA intake was significantly associated with reduced gait speed.

"Prospective cohort studies are needed to confirm the potential protective effects on dietary LNA and detrimental effects of SFA in PAD," concludes the team.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sally Robertson