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Omega 3 heart health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Attacks: What To Know

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Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower blood pressure and promote heart health. And research indicates that they may have an even more substantial benefit, which is treating cardiovascular diseases and reducing the risk of repeat heart attacks.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat that is naturally found in fish like salmon or trout. In a study published in The American Journal of the College of Cardiology, researchers established three new benefits to consuming omega-3 fish oils based on four trials and over 40,000 participants.

  1. Omega-3 fish oils may prevent cardiovascular disease.
  2. Omega-3 fish oils may be beneficial in the treatment after a heart attack.
  3. Heart attack survivors may be able to reduce their risk of a fatal episode by as much as 30% by consuming oily fish or taking supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids have already been proven to help promote healthy heart rhythms, lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. According to this study, consuming fish oil can be both a safe and relatively inexpensive therapy to prevent cardiovascular complications. Researchers found that an increased intake of fish oils can improve electrical activity and platelet stabilization. This improved activity has been positively correlated with very strong levels of cardiovascular prevention.

Researchers recommend that daily, healthy individuals consume 500 milligrams of omega-3 fish oil containing eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Individuals with known heart disease or heart failure take 800 to 1000 milligrams every day. As the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic enter the membranes of cells, they may help to improve the heart's electrical activity, vascular tone, plaque stabilization and blood pressure.

Patients should talk with their doctors about whether a fish oil supplement is needed to protect their heart from cardiovascular disease. There is a lot of great evidence of the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for both individuals with and without heart disease. But the strongest evidence, researchers have found, is the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on patients with established cardiovascular disease, as well as following a heart attack. In these studies, the introduction of omega-3 fatty acids demonstrated a cardio-protective representing up to a 30% reduction in cardiovascular-related death for these patient populations.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Feb. 5, 2014. The referenced study published in The American Journal of the College of Cardiology was authored by Ochsner Health physicians Carl J. Lavie, MD, FACC, FACP, FCCP, Richard Milani, MD, FACC, FAHA and Hector Ventura, MD, FACC, FACP.  

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