Doctors told about the benefits of fish oil for heart health

Reuters

The experts stated that fish oil contains a substance which helps the human body to gain better protection against heart attacks and strokes.

At present, the Heart Foundation does not advise routine recommendation of omega-3 supplements for heart health, but does recommend health professionals consider the use of omega-3 supplements for people with high triglyceride levels, as well as an additional treatment for heart failure. In addition, while fish oil did not reduce the risk of stroke or other cardiovascular problems, it did reduce the risk of heart attack by 28 percent and that is a significant finding.

The researchers conducted two experiments.

Another group took vitamin D only; while another took fish oil only. The researchers found that both healthy people and people who had heart problems benefited when they took omega 3 fatty acids.

Not everyone with heart disease would necessarily benefit from the supplements participants received in the trial. from shutterstock.com.

"It's disappointing, but there have always been such high expectations that vitamin D can do all these different things", said Dr. Clifford J. Rosen of the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough, who was a co-author of an editorial on the studies in The New England Journal of Medicine. One such medicine, Jardiance, surprised doctors a few years ago by lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The study was a systematic review, which combined the results of ten trials testing fish oil supplements (at a lower dose than the REDUCE-IT trial), involving 77,917 older adults at high risk of cardiovascular disease. But those eating less than one and a half fish servings per week saw a 40 percent reduction in heart attack compared to placebo.

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Consumers who want to reduce their risk of cancer and heart disease can follow other proven strategies. I would conclude that if you already have adequate levels of vitamin D, adding more won't protect you against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Dr. Satjit Bhusri is a cardiologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "Its results will have a lasting change in the prevention of heart disease", said Bhusri, who was not involved with the studies. In other words, it's not worth taking if you're anxious about heart-related conditions and cancer, which is what this study investigated. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, tuna and certain other fish.

More specifically, the first study compared the use of the drug Vascepa with that of a mineral oil placebo for 8,000 pts over a 5 year interval. About 7 in 10 patients in the study had hardened arteries, while the rest had diabetes and at least one other heart risk factor. Nor do they reduce the rate of major cardiovascular events, a composite of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular disease.

To get answers to some of your questions, we spoke with Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, at Brigham and Women's Hospital, who headed the VITAL trial.

There are many ways that omega-3 fatty acids could help heart health, Manson said. They reduce triglycerides and inflammation and may have other effects. We also turned to Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, senior scientist and director of the Bone Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University School of Medicine. It is a purified variant of a component of fish oil, which is aimed at triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood.

Good news for everyone: You no longer have to fast before a blood test to check cholesterol.

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