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Statins + Omega-Imbalance = Artery Clogs
Arteries of people on statins clog faster when their blood has the low omega-3/6 ratio typical of Americans 02/11/2013
Taking statins for your cardiovascular health?
Then you should take note of a study that confirms the dangers of America's all-too-typical “omega imbalance”.
This Japanese research, published in The American Journal of Cardiology, should give patients on statin drugs pause about their diets (Nozue T et al. 2013).
Alarmingly, the study in patients taking statins linked both low blood levels of omega-3s and low ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids to the faster clogging of arteries.
Cholesterol/fat-laden plaques gradually narrow coronary arteries in a process known as atherosclerosis.
These plaques are unstable to varying degrees, and can burst, causing clots that can clog or block major arteries, leading to heart attack or sudden cardiac death.
Prior Japanese research* revealed three worrisome associations in cardiac patients:
  • Low omega-3 levels and fattier arterial plaque
  • Statin therapy and lower omega-3 DHA blood levels**
  • Low omega-3/6 ratios and greater arterial plaque instability
  • Low omega-3 EPA levels and greater arterial plaque instability
  • Low omega-3/6 fat ratios and greater risk of adverse cardiac events
  • Low omega-3 levels and greater extent of plaques and plaque calcification
*Ueeda M et al. 2008; Amano T et al. 2011; Kashiyama T et al. 2011; Domei T et al. 2012; Nozue T et al. 2013
**This study occurred in patients taking either pravastatin or pitavastatin … only pitavastatin was associated with a drop in omega-3 (DHA) levels.
Study finds low omega-3/6 ratio in patients on statins yields ill effects
The new study was conducted by Tsuyoshi Nozue, M.D., and his colleagues at Japan's Yokohama Sakae Kyosai Hospital.
They recruited 101 statin-treated patients with coronary artery disease who'd undergone angioplasty.
The doctors evaluated the patients' artery status using a special kind of ultrasound (virtual histology), at two times:
  • Following angioplasty.
  • After eight months of statin therapy.
Angioplasty is the procedure whereby a cardiologist inserts a catheter into a clogged artery and then feeds a deflated balloon through until it reaches the block.
The balloon is then inflated to open the artery, and a stent (tube) is often inserted at the site of blockage to keep the artery open.
After eight months on statin drugs, 46 percent of patients had suffered a greater buildup of plaque, while 54 percent had less plaque.
Critically, the volunteers whose blood was particularly low in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and high in omega-6 fatty acids (arachidonic acid or AA) had the worst outcomes.
A low omega-3/6 ratio or low levels of omega-3s were both linked to having more plaque and more fibrous matter (a bad thing) in that plaque.
Importantly, the omega-3/6 ratio was “a significant predictor” of the change in both plaque volume and the fibrous portion.
The predictive power of these factors strengthens the case for their being a cause-effect relationship between a heart patient's omega-3/6 ratio and changes in both the amount of arterial plaque and its characteristics.
To learn more about the dangers of the “omega- imbalance” typical of the standard American diet, see “America's Sickening Omega Imbalance” and “Using our Omega 3/6 Balance Scores”.
For information about omega-3s and health, see our “Omega-3 Facts & Sources” page.
Statins exert anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering effects.
They yield reductions in cardiac risk factors, and reduce the risk of adverse cardiac events … but statins also bear the risk of relatively uncommon but potentially serious adverse side effects.
Do not stop taking prescribed statin drugs without consulting your doctor.


  • Amano T, Matsubara T, Uetani T, Kato M, Kato B, Yoshida T, Harada K, Kumagai S, Kunimura A, Shinbo Y, Kitagawa K, Ishii H, Murohara T. Impact of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on coronary plaque instability: an integrated backscatter intravascular ultrasound study. Atherosclerosis. 2011 Sep;218(1):110-6. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.05.030. Epub 2011 Jun 1.
  • Domei T, Yokoi H, Kuramitsu S, Soga Y, Arita T, Ando K, Shirai S, Kondo K, Sakai K, Goya M, Iwabuchi M, Ueeda M, Nobuyoshi M. Ratio of serum n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the incidence of major adverse cardiac events in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. Circ J. 2012;76(2):423-9. Epub 2011 Dec 8.
  • Kashiyama T, Ueda Y, Nemoto T, Wada M, Masumura Y, Matsuo K, Nishio M, Hirata A, Asai M, Kashiwase K, Kodama K. Relationship between coronary plaque vulnerability and serum n-3/n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio. Circ J. 2011;75(10):2432-8. Epub 2011 Jul 20.
  • Nozue T, Yamamoto S, Tohyama S, Fukui K, Umezawa S, Onishi Y, Kunishima T, Sato A, Nozato T, Miyake S, Takeyama Y, Morino Y, Yamauchi T, Muramatsu T, Hibi K, Terashima M, Michishita I. Effects of Serum n-3 to n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Ratios on Coronary Atherosclerosis in Statin-Treated Patients With Coronary Artery Disease. Am J Cardiol. 2013 Jan 1;111(1):6-11. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.08.038. Epub 2012 Oct 2. Accessed at
  • Nozue T, Yamamoto S, Tohyama S, Fukui K, Umezawa S, Onishi Y, Kunishima T, Sato A, Nozato T, Miyake S, Takeyama Y, Morino Y, Yamauchi T, Muramatsu T, Hibi K, Michishita I. Effects of Statins on Serum n-3 to n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Ratios in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Jan 15. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Ueeda M, Doumei T, Takaya Y, Shinohata R, Katayama Y, Ohnishi N, Takaishi A, Miyoshi T, Hirohata S, Kusachi S. Serum N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels correlate with the extent of coronary plaques and calcifications in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Circ J. 2008 Nov;72(11):1836-43. Epub 2008 Sep 24.