Background and aims
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.

Method and results
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.