We assessed the dose-response relations within a low range of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and fish intake on fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI).

In a Dutch population-based cohort study, EPA+DHA and fish intake were assessed at baseline among 21,342 participants aged 20-65 y with no history of MI or stroke. Hazard ratios were calculated with Cox proportional-hazard models. During 9-14 y of follow-up (mean 11.3 y), 647 participants (3%) died, of which 82 of CHD. Fatal CHD mainly comprised MI (64 case). In total, 252 participants survived an MI. Median intake in quartiles of EPA+DHA were 40, 84, 151, and 234 mg/d. Medians of fish consumption in quartiles were 1.1, 4.2, 10.7, and 17.3 g/d.

Compared with the lowest quartile of EPA+DHA, participants in the top quartile had a 49% lower risk of fatal CHD (95% CI: 6-73%) and a 62% lower risk of fatal MI (95% CI: 23-81%). We observed inverse dose-response relations for EPA+DHA intake and fatal CHD (P-trend = 0.05) and fatal MI (P-trend = 0.01).

Results were similar for fish consumption. Nonfatal MI was not associated with EPA+DHA or fish intake. In conclusion, in populations with a low fish consumption, EPA+DHA and fish may lower fatal CHD and MI risk in a dose-responsive manner. Low intakes of EPA+DHA or fish do not seem to protect against nonfatal MI.