Fish Oil Benefits Heart Health – Compelling New Evidence December 4, 2009

Salmon

Salmon

A new study, published in the August 11, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reviewed data on four trials involving almost 40,000 participants and overwhelmingly confirmed the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, in treatment after heart attack and, most recently, in heart failure patients.  

“This isn’t just hype; we now have tremendous and compelling evidence from very large studies, some dating back 20 and 30 years, that demonstrate the protective benefits of omega-3 fish oil in multiple aspects of preventive cardiology,” said Carl Lavie, M.D., F.A.C.C., medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention, Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans, LA, and lead author of the article. “The strongest evidence of a cardioprotective effect of omega-3s appears in patients with established cardiovascular disease and following a heart attack with up to a 30 percent reduction in CV-related death.”

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), the long-chain fatty acids in the omega-3 family found abundant in fish have the most compelling evidence. According to Dr. Lavie, EPA and DHA work by getting into the membranes of cells and, in doing so, may help to improve the heart’s electrical activity, vascular tone, plaque stabilization and blood pressure.

Based on these findings, and because the body does not produce its own essential fatty acids, the authors recommend that healthy individuals consume 500 mg daily of omega-3 fish oil containing EPA and DHA, and people with known heart disease or heart failure aim for at least 800 to 1,000 mg daily.

“There are clear health and heart benefits associated with increasing one’s intake of foods that are rich in Omega-3s, including oily fish like salmon, sardines, trout, herring, and oysters” said Dr. Lavie.

Authors say further studies are needed to investigate and determine optimal dosages, as well as the ratio of DHA to EPA for maximal heart protection in patients.

Source: American College of Cardiology

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