Can Omega-3 Fatty Acid Reduce Heart Disease And Stroke?
Posted Jan 07 2013 1:39am
Omega-3 fatty acid, which can be found in fish oils, squid oil and some plant oils like flaxseed oil, are considered essential fatty acids. While they cannot be synthesized by the human body, they are vital for normal metabolism.
For years, health professionals believe that omega-3 fatty acid can help prevent heart disease and other ailments, as supported by a number of clinical trials. While the underlying mechanism is not clear, it is possible that studies that showed some heart health benefits from consuming omega-3 fatty acids might be due to their ability of lowering triglyceride levels, prevent serious arrhythmias, or even lower platelet aggregation and lower blood pressure.
However, its health benefits remain controversial as there is a lack of conclusive evidence to link it with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.
A study appeared in September 12, 2012’s issue of the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ (Jama) reported that omega-3 fatty acids had no effect in lowering the risk of stroke, heart attack or death.
Researchers from the University Hospital of Ioannina in Greece examined 20 studies involving 68,680 randomized patients who were given supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. It was found that there were 7,044 deaths, 3,993 cardiac deaths, 1,150 sudden deaths, 1,837 heart attacks, and 1,490 strokes. Analysis of these figures did not show any statistically significant association with reduction in death, stroke or heart disease.
Prevailing guidelines suggest using omega-3 fatty acid as supplements or through diet for patients after heart attack. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its use as triglyceride-lowering agents in patients with overt hypertriglyceridemia. In Europe, there are certain national regulatory approving use of omega-3 supplements to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Based on the findings, the researchers do not suggest using omega-3 proactively in trying to optimize heart health. In their opinion, it is necessary to conduct further research, including, in their own words, ‘an individual patient data meta-analysis to refine possible associations related to, among others, dose, adherence, baseline intake, and cardiovascular disease risk group’.