Increased arterial stiffness is closely linked with raised blood pressure that contributes substantially to enhanced risk of coronary heart disease in high risk individuals with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH). Omega-3 fatty acid (ω3-FA) supplementation has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure in subjects with a high cardiovascular disease risk. Whether ω3-FA supplementation improves arterial stiffness in FH subjects, on background statin therapy, has yet to be investigated.

We carried out an 8-week randomized, crossover intervention trial to test the effect of 4 g/d ω3-FA supplementation (46% eicosapentaenoic acid and 38% docosahexaenoic acid) on arterial elasticity in 20 adults with FH on optimal cholesterol-lowering therapy. Large and small artery elasticity were measured by pulse contour analysis of the radial artery. ω3-FA supplementation significantly (P < 0.05 in all) increased large artery elasticity (+9%) and reduced systolic blood pressure (-6%) and diastolic blood pressure (-6%), plasma triglycerides (-20%), apoB concentration (-8%). In contrast, ω3-FAs had no significant effect on small artery elasticity. The change in large artery elasticity was not significantly associated with changes in systolic blood pressure or plasma triglyceride concentration.

ω3-FA supplementation improves large arterial elasticity and arterial blood pressure independent of statin therapy in adults with FH.