Fish oil may keep arteries clear after surgery

July 16, 2002 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Fish oil may keep arteries clear after surgery

Patients who undergo angioplasty, an operation to clear clogged heart arteries. may extend the surgery's effects by taking fish oil supplements beforehand, study findings from Italy suggest.

Patients who took supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids beginning one month before undergoing angioplasty were less likely to experience re-closure of the clogged artery (restenosis), compared with patients who took an inactive placebo.

But the research team cautions that it is too soon to begin taking fish oil supplements as a means of preventing restenosis.

Oftentimes, angioplasty is performed within days after heart disease is diagnosed, making long-term supplementation impossible.

The study included 257 patients who underwent angioplasty, in which a balloon-tipped catheter is threaded into the arteries to clear fatty plaques. Patients received an olive oil supplement or six (g) capsules containing 3 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EHA) and 2.1 g of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in total, daily, beginning one month before their surgery. The treatment was maintained until one month after surgery when it was continued at half the initial dose for 6 months. EHA and DHA are types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish that are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

About 30% of patients who took the omega-3 fatty acid capsules experienced a significant re-narrowing of their blood vessel, compared with nearly 40% of patients who took the olive oil supplement.

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