Although aging-related elastic arterial stiffness is an independent indicator of cardiovascular risk, the roles of polyunsaturated fatty acids in this condition remain uncertain.

This prospective study examined the relationships of aging, persist overweight and plasma fatty acids with arterial stiffening over 3 years.

We divided a cohort of 179 healthy, nonhypertensive subjects (aged ≥50 years) into 2 groups: a normal-weight group (18.5 kg/m2 ≤ body mass index [BMI] < 25 kg/m2, n = 103) and an overweight group (25 kg/m2 ≤ BMI< 30 kg/m2, n = 76). Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (ba-PWV) and plasma fatty acids were measured at baseline and after 3 years.

After 3 years, the overweight group showed greater increases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, insulin, homeostasis model assessment-Insulin resistance index and ba-PWV values (P = .009) than the normal-weight group. In addition, greater reductions in eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:3, n-3, EPA; P = .009) and the EPA/arachidonic acid (C20:4, n-6, AA) ratio (P = .001) were found in the overweight group. Multivariate analyses revealed that changes in (Δ) ba-PWV were significantly and positively associated with baseline BMI values and ΔAA/linoleic acid ratios (C18:2, n-6, LA) and negatively associated with ΔEPA/AA ratios. In a subanalysis using baseline BMI values, Δba-PWV correlated strongly and negatively with ΔEPA/AA ratios (r = −0.595, P < .001) and positively with ΔAA/LA ratios (r = 0.455, P < .001) in the overweight group.

This study suggests that the persistence of overweight over 3 years in subjects ≥50 years old is associated with faster arterial stiffening than is observed in normal-weight subjects and that this stiffening is independently associated with increases in AA/LA and decreases in EPA/AA ratios.