OBJECTIVE: To determine the extent to which levels of membrane eicosapentaenoic (EPA)+docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) (the omega-3 index) were associated with depression in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Depression is associated with worse cardiovascular (CV) outcomes in patients with ACS. Reduced levels of blood cell membrane omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids (FAs), an emerging risk factor for both CV disease and depression, may help to explain the link between depression and adverse CV outcomes.

METHODS: We measured membrane FA composition in 759 patients with confirmed ACS. The analysis included not only EPA and DHA but also the n-6 FAs linoleic and arachidonic acids (LA and AA). Depressive symptoms were measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ). Multivariable linear regression was used to adjust for demographic and clinical characteristics.

RESULTS: There was a significant inverse relationship between the n-3 index and depressive symptoms (PHQ) in the fully adjusted model (p = .034). For every 4.54% point rise in the n-3 index, there was a 1-point decline in depressive symptoms. In contrast to the n-3 FAs, membrane levels of the n-6 FAs LA and AA were not different between depressed and nondepressed ACS patients.

CONCLUSION: We found an inverse relationship between the n-3 index and the prevalence of depressive symptoms in patients with ACS. Therefore, this study supports the hypothesis that reduced n-3 FA tissue levels are a common and potentially modifiable link between depression and adverse CV outcomes.

Keywords: acute coronary syndrome, depression, depressive symptoms - eicosapentaenoic acid, epa, docosahexaenoic acid, dha, omega-3 fatty acids