Table of Contents
Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 362795, 13 pages
Review Article

Membrane Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency as a Preventable Risk Factor for Comorbid Coronary Heart Disease in Major Depressive Disorder

Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA

Received 11 May 2009; Accepted 10 July 2009

Academic Editor: Radmila M. Manev

Copyright © 2009 Robert K. McNamara. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Major depression disorder (MDD) significantly increases the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) which is a leading cause of mortality in patients with MDD. Moreover, depression is frequently observed in a subset of patients following acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and increases risk for mortality. Here evidence implicating omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid deficiency in the pathoaetiology of CHD and MDD is reviewed, and the hypothesis that n-3 fatty acid deficiency is a preventable risk factor for CHD comorbidity in MDD patients is evaluated. This hypothesis is supported by cross-national and cross-sectional epidemiological surveys finding an inverse correlation between n-3 fatty acid status and prevalence rates of both CHD and MDD, prospective studies finding that lower dietary or membrane EPA+DHA levels increase risk for both MDD and CHD, case-control studies finding that the n-3 fatty acid status of MDD patients places them at high risk for emergent CHD morbidity and mortality, meta-analyses of controlled n-3 fatty acid intervention studies finding significant advantage over placebo for reducing depression symptom severity in MDD patients, and for secondary prevention of cardiac events in CHD patients, findings that n-3 fatty acid status is inversely correlated with other documented CHD risk factors, and patients diagnosed with MDD after ACS exhibit significantly lower n-3 fatty acid status compared with nondepressed ACS patients. This body of evidence provides strong support for future studies to evaluate the effects of increasing dietary n-3 fatty acid status on CHD comorbidity and mortality in MDD patients.