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Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Role in Cardiovascular Health and Disease

Engler, Marguerite M. PhD, FAHA; Engler, Mary B. PhD, FAHA


Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic and docosahxaenoic acids, play an important role in cardiovascular health and disease. Clinical trials provide substantial evidence to support current dietary recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease management. The cardioprotective benefits of omega-3 fatty acids may be attributed to multiple physiological effects on lipids, blood pressure, vascular function, cardiac rhythms, platelet function, and inflammatory responses. The metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids, physiological effects, and clinical considerations with current dietary recommendations and sources of omega-3 fatty acids are presented.

Marguerite M. Engler, PhD, FAHA University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.

Mary B. Engler, PhD, FAHA University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.

Sources of Support: This research was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants # NR 04902, NR 02407 and the National Center for Research Resources, U.S. Public Health Service grants # M01 RR-01271 for the Pediatric Clinical Research Center and # M01-00079 for the General Clinical Research Center, University of California, San Francisco.

Corresponding author Marguerite M. Engler, PhD, FAHA, Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, 2 Koret Way, Rm N631, San Francisco, CA 94143-0610 (e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.