Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mounting Evidence Of Fish Oil's Heart Health Benefits

Date:
August 5, 2009
Source:
American College of Cardiology
Summary:
There is mounting evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements not only help prevent cardiovascular diseases in healthy individuals, but also reduce the incidence of cardiac events and mortality in patients with existing heart disease. A new study extensively reviews data from a broad range of studies in tens of thousands of patients and sets forth suggested daily targets for omega-3 consumption.

There is mounting evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements not only help prevent cardiovascular diseases in healthy individuals, but also reduce the incidence of cardiac events and mortality in patients with existing heart disease. A new study, published in the August 11, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, extensively reviews data from a broad range of studies in tens of thousands of patients and sets forth suggested daily targets for omega-3 consumption.

"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."

Dietary intake of fish oil can also decrease the risk of atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, heart attack, sudden cardiac death and even health failure. Dr. Lavie adds that although there is a smaller benefit in reducing heart failure death—9 percent mortality benefit in a major recent randomized controlled trial—this is still very impressive given patients' grave prognosis.

"If we translate this finding, it means that we only need to treat 56 patients for four years to prevent one death," he said. "And we are talking about a very safe and relatively inexpensive therapy."

Most of the evidence for the cardioprotective benefits supports the use of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), the long-chain fatty acids in the omega-3 family. 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, among other benefits. Studies show that the reduction in CV events is inversely related to the tissue level EPA and, even more so, DHA.

Based on these findings, and because the body does not produce its own essential fatty acids, the authors recommend that healthy individuals should 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 "Patients should talk with their doctors about whether a fish oil supplement is needed to get the right amount and, in turn, benefit from the associated cardiovascular protection."

Dr. Lavie and his team came across only a few negative studies, including a recent one that showed no benefit in post-MI patients, but it has raised the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids may not provide as much additional protective benefits in low-risk patients already receiving extensive and rigorous post-MI therapies. "It was a one-year study that enrolled fewer than 4,000 patients and the majority were using aspirin, clopidogrel, statins, beta-blockers and ACE-inhibitors—the best of modern medicine," he said. "It may be that their risk was so low to start, that a larger study with longer follow-up would be required to better assess the true efficacy of omega-3 in such relatively low-risk patients."

Authors say further studies are needed to investigate and determine optimal dosages, as well as the relative ration of DHA and EPA that provides maximal heart protection in those at risk of cardiovascular disease, and in the treatment of atherosclerosis, arrhythmias and heart attacks.

Interestingly, culture has historically played a role; sometimes dubbed the "Eskimo factor," research shows cultures that have traditionally supported a diet rich in fish oil (Asian and Alaskan American populations) had a lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease and mortality, including a reduced prevalence of atherosclerosis and heart disease, compared to European and United States populations where consumption of fish is lower. Ironically, the introduction of Western dietary practices into Asian and Native American cultures may be diluting the cardioprotective benefits enjoyed by these populations by both reducing the overall intake of fish oils, as well as overwhelming its benefits with other deleterious dietary practices, including high intakes of saturated and trans fats and cholesterol.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Cardiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American College of Cardiology. "Mounting Evidence Of Fish Oil's Heart Health Benefits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803173250.htm>.
American College of Cardiology. (2009, August 5). Mounting Evidence Of Fish Oil's Heart Health Benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803173250.htm
American College of Cardiology. "Mounting Evidence Of Fish Oil's Heart Health Benefits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803173250.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins