Fish, fish oil may lower risk of heart at­tack

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

EAT­ING more fish or tak­ing a fish oil sup­ple­ment can re­duce your risk of a heart at­tack, ac­cord­ing to a pair of Har­vard-led clin­i­cal tri­als. Heart ben­e­fits from omega-3 fatty acids were found both in healthy peo­ple and in peo­ple with con­di­tions that put them at in­creased risk of heart at­tack, stroke or heart dis­ease, the two stud­ies found. The Vi­ta­min D and Omega-3 Trial (VI­TAL) found that healthy peo­ple who took a fish oil sup­ple­ment suf­fered fewer heart at­tacks, par­tic­u­larly if they were black or did not reg­u­larly eat fish. Mean­while, a pu­ri­fied form of omega-3 fatty acid re­duced the risk of death by heart dis­ease, heart at­tack or stroke in peo­ple with hard­ened ar­ter­ies or other heart risk fac­tors, ac­cord­ing to find­ings from the Re­duc­tion of Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Events with Icos­apent Ethyl In­ter­ven­tion Trial (RE­DUCE-IT). The two stud­ies pro­vide firm ev­i­dence that the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, sar­dines or tuna can have a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on heart health, said Dr JoAnn Manson, chief of pre­ven­tive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hos­pi­tal in Bos­ton, and lead re­searcher for the VI­TAL trial. “We’re not rec­om­mend­ing that ev­ery­one in the world be­gin tak­ing fish oil sup­ple­ments. In terms of the omega 3s, the best thing to do is to try to have more di­etary fish,” Manson said. “If peo­ple aren’t go­ing to eat fish, there re­ally may be some ben­e­fits from tak­ing a fish oil sup­ple­ment. We rec­om­mend they dis­cuss that with their health care provider.” For the VI­TAL trial, nearly 26,000 US men and women aged 50 and older were ran­domly as­signed to take one gram of fish oil or 2,000 In­ter­na­tional Units of vi­ta­min D daily, or a placebo. Par­tic­i­pants had no his­tory of heart prob­lems. The fish oil sup­ple­ments re­duced risk of heart at­tack by 28 per cent over a five-year fol­low-up pe­riod, but they did not af­fect a per­son’s risk of stroke or can­cer, re­searchers found. “The lower risk of heart at­tack was found par­tic­u­larly in those who have low fish con­sump­tion,” Manson said. “That group had 19 per cent re­duc­tion in all ma­jor car­dio­vas­cu­lar events, plus they had a 40 per cent re­duc­tion in heart at­tack.” VI­TAL also found over­whelm­ing ben­e­fit of fish oil sup­ple­ments for black par­tic­i­pants, who had a 77 per cent re­duc­tion in their risk of heart at­tack. “If that can be con­firmed in a fol­low-up study, then it could point to a very promis­ing ap­proach to re­duc­ing a health dis­par­ity,” Manson said. Dr Satjit Bhusri is a car­di­ol­o­gist with Lenox Hill Hos­pi­tal in New York City. “This is a very im­por­tant and im­pres­sive trial. Its re­sults will have a last­ing change in the pre­ven­tion of heart dis­ease,” said Bhusri, who was not in­volved with the stud­ies. “A re­duc­tion in heart at­tacks this pro­found has not seen been since in pri­mary pre­ven­tion since the early tri­als of as­pirin ther­apy.” RE­DUCE-IT in­cluded more than 8,000 pa­tients tak­ing statins to lower their choles­terol and pre­vent ei­ther a first or re­peat heart at­tack or stroke. About seven in 10 pa­tients in the study had hard­ened ar­ter­ies, while the rest had di­a­betes and at least one other heart risk fac­tor. Peo­ple tak­ing icos­apent ethyl had a 20 per cent re­duc­tion in their risk of heartre­lated death, a 31 per cent re­duc­tion in heart at­tack and a 28 per cent re­duc­tion in stroke, com­pared to those given a placebo, re­searchers found.

If peo­ple aren’t go­ing to eat fish, there re­ally may be some ben­e­fits from tak­ing a fish oil sup­ple­ment. We rec­om­mend they dis­cuss that with their health care provider.

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