Why Omega-3 benefits the heart and increases longevity ? January 22, 2010

Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease

Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease

New Study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

The news about omega-3 benefits keeps coming! The evidence continues to grow stronger. Patients with coronary heart disease showed relatively longer “telomeres” when taking omega-3. As we age, our cells continue to divide and the “telomeres” shrink in size and thus is a marker of biological age. Shorter telomeres have been correlated with death and heart failure in several studies.

In a study published in this week’s JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), researchers measured telomere length in over 600 patients over 5 years. The study found that people with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their system had significantly less shrinkage in telomeres over five years, as compared with patients with lower omega-3 levels.

“What we’re demonstrating is a potentially new link between omega-3 fatty acids and the aging process,” said Ramin Farzaneh-Far, a clinical cardiologist and assistant medical professor at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital who is the lead author of the research.

This comes just after other recent studies showing the benefits of omega-3 to heart patients. Just in August of 2009 a study was published in the August 11, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which 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.

The researchers conclude that the current recommendations on omega-3 fatty acids don’t change and the following guide from American Heart Association (AHA) on appropriate dosage levels is very much valid:

Population Recommendation
Patients without documented coronary heart disease (CHD) Eat a variety of (preferably fatty) fish at least twice a week. Include oils and foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (flaxseed, canola and soybean oils; flaxseed and walnuts).
Patients with documented CHD Consume about 1 g of EPA+DHA per day, preferably from fatty fish.  EPA+DHA in capsule form could be considered in consultation with the physician.
Patients who need to lower triglycerides 2 to 4 grams of EPA+DHA per day provided as capsules under a physician’s care.

The AHA notes that patients taking more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules should only do so under a physician’s care.  High intakes could cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Sources: Journal of American Medical Association. American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, and The Wall Street Journal

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