Coagulation and platelet aggregation induced by thrombin, ADP, adrenaline, and collagen were studied in three contrasted groups, each of 20 to 22 middle-aged male farmers. Serum lipids were similar in the three groups. In the west of Scotland group, however, platelet reactivity was significantly greater than in the east of Scotland. This was associated with a dietary intake, evaluated by three different techniques, higher in saturated fat but also lower in polyunsaturated fat and alcohol. Platelet function in the southern England group also correlated with dietary fats and in addition inversely with calcium intake. On an individual basis in the 63 farmers, all the platelet function tests were significantly correlated with the intake of saturated fat regulated by that of calcium and alcohol. The dietary effects on platelets appear to be mediated by the fatty acid composition of plasma lipids and of platelet phospholipids. In that fraction, the fatty acids 20:3 omega 9, 22:3 omega 9 and 20:4 were the most closely related to the platelet function tests. the trienoic acid 20:3 omega 9, identified with essential fatty acid deficiency, was also correlated with the intake of saturated fat and calcium. In this study, platelet functions were more dependent upon the dietary factors associated with coronary heart disease such as saturated fats, calcium, and alcohol than upon serum lipids.
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