Plasma free fatty acids (FFA) are higher in heart failure (HF) patients compared to healthy controls. Considering that the extent of FFA elevation in HF might mirror the severity of HF, we hypothesized that the serum levels of FFA may be a useful prognostic indicator for 3-month mortality in acute heart failure (AHF).
We analyzed the serum samples of AHF patients obtained at admission to the emergency department. Serum levels of FFA were analyzed using an enzymatic reagent on an automatic analyzer.
Out of 152 included AHF patients that were originally included, serum samples of 132 patients were available for the quantification of FFA. Of these, 35 (26.5%) died within 3 months of onset of AHF. These patients had significantly higher serum levels of FFA compared to AHF patients who were alive 3 months after onset of AHF. Univariable logistic regression analyses showed a significant positive association of FFA levels with 3-month mortality (odds ratio [OR] 2.76 [95% confidence interval 1.32–6.27], p = 0.010). Importantly, this association remained significant after adjusting for age and sex, as well as for further clinical and laboratory parameters that showed a significant association with 3-month mortality in the univariate analyses.
We conclude that the admission serum levels of FFA are associated with 3-month mortality in AHF patients. Therefore, measurements of circulating FFA levels may help identifying high-risk AHF patients.