Fish Oil and Heart Health

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI. Researchers at the Mid America Heart Institute have come out strongly in favor of routine fish or fish oil supplementation for heart patients and people at risk for heart disease. The researchers summarize the results of a large number of clinical trials which have clearly shown that fish oil supplementation or increased fish consumption can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 20- 50% or more. They believe that fish oils (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) exert their protective effect by preventing fatal ventricular arrhythmias, by increasing heart rate variability, decreasing fibrinogen and platelet counts (important in preventing blood clotting) and by reducing blood pressure. A recent trial found that fish oils are highly effective in reducing ventricular premature complexes (missed heart beats) and they have also been found to counteract the arrhythmia-inducing properties of eicosanoids derived from arachidonic acid. The US Food and Drug Administration recently reviewed the safety profile of EPA and DHA and concludes that a combined daily intake of these two essential fatty acids of up to 3 grams per day is safe. The Heart Institute researchers point out that fish oils are effective in relatively small doses (approximately 1 gram/day) and have no adverse interactions with other heart drugs. They conclude “After 25 years of research, we believe that sufficient evidence is now available to recommend not only fish for cardiac patients, but also specifically EPA and DHA.”


O’Keefe, Jr., James H. and Harris, William S. Omega-3 fatty acids: time for clinical implementation? American Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 85, May 15, 2000, pp. 1239-41
O’Keefe, Jr., James H. and Harris, William S. From Inuit to implementation: omega-3 fatty acids come of age. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Vol. 75, June 2000, pp. 607-14 [85 references]

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