OSLO, NORWAY. Most heart transplant patients (60-100%) develop hypertension within six months following their surgery. It is believed that the increase in blood pressure is caused by the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine. Medical doctors at the University of Oslo now report that supplementation with fish oils will prevent the development of hypertension. Their clinical trial involved 28 heart transplant patients who, 4 days after surgery, were randomized to receive either 4 grams of fish oil (providing 1.9 g of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and 1.5 g of docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] as well as 14.8 mg of vitamin E) or 4 grams of corn oil with vitamin E once a day for 6 months. The patients' blood pressure (24-hour readings) were measured 12 days, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, and 6 months after surgery. Blood samples were also taken for analysis of EPA and DHA content.
The researchers found that the average (mean) systolic blood pressure in the placebo group had increased by 17 mm Hg at the end of the 6-month supplementation period. In contrast, the average systolic blood pressure in the fish oil group had decreased by 2 mm Hg. The average diastolic pressure in the placebo group increased by 21 mm Hg as compared to an increase of only 10 mm Hg in the fish oil group. The researchers also observed a clear inverse correlation between the blood serum levels of EPA + DHA and systolic blood pressure. They conclude that daily supplementation with 4 grams of fish oil can markedly reduce the tendency to develop hypertension among cyclosporine-treated heart transplant patients.
Andreassen, Arne K., et al. Hypertension prophylaxis with omega-3 fatty acids in heart transplant recipients. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 29, May 1997, pp. 1324-31