The Japanese have higher levels of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their diets. These facts may contribute to the lower rates of atherosclerosis in Japanese. The purposes of this study were to assess the PUFA levels in patients with subtypes of acute ischemic stroke and to assess the relationship between severity and PUFA levels.

We studied 75 patients with lacunar infarction (LI; n = 25), atherothrombotic infarction (AT; n = 32), and cardiogenic embolism (CE; n = 18). The patients underwent blood examinations in a fasting state next morning of hospitalization, including examination of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), triglyceride (TG), blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), uric acid, and fatty acid fractions of EPA, DHA, dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (AA). We used the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) to assess clinical severity at discharge.

There was no significant difference in the EPA/AA and DHA/AA ratio among the three stroke subgroups, although the DGLA/AA ratio was significantly higher in patients with LI than in patients with CE. Considering the confounding factors, the mRS was negatively correlated with EPA/AA and positively correlated with age, DHA/AA, and blood glucose.

High EPA/AA ratio was associated with good outcome in ischemic stroke. Our paper suggests that prestroke dietary habits affect the severity in patients with ischemic stroke.