Omega-3 fatty acids may help treat heart disease

August 12, 2009 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids may help treat heart disease

Omega-3 fatty acids found in coldwater fish not only prevent heart disease - they may even help treat it, according to a new study published in the August 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

This report looked at four trials with almost 40,000 participants that show benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, in treatment after heart attack and, most recently, in heart failure patients.

Overall, the epidemiological evidence showed that populations such as Asians and Alaskan Eskimos, whose diets are rich in omega-3 fish oil, have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Most people know that omega-3 fatty acids are good for you, but they may not know that these "good" fats also help in therapy for a number of heart conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, heart attack, atherosclerosis and heart failure, says study author Carl J. Lavie.

The American Heart Association has endorsed omega-3 fatty acid intake, from fish or supplements, recommending specific amounts of omega-3 fatty acids each day for people in general, with greater intake recommended for people with heart disease.

For the general population, 500 milligrams a day of omega-3 fatty acids from food or supplements is recommended. (500 milligrams a day is the equivalent of two fatty fish meals per week.)

For people with heart disease, the daily dose of omega-3 should be increased to 800 to1000 milligrams a day.

Omega-3 supplements should be taken only after consulting with a doctor to ensure safety.  

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