New study demonstrates benefits of omega-3 on the heart

New study demonstrates benefits of omega-3 on the heart

Omega-3 has long been suspected to contribute to the prevention of heart attacks and other forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, scientific evidence has often been inconsistent in supporting this theory.

Now, a team of researchers has published results of the largest trial of omega-3 to date and has found evidence to support the role of fish oil supplements in lowering the risk of heart attack and CVD.

Omega-3 may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease

The research, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, demonstrates the effectiveness of omega-3 fish oil supplements in a way that has never been achieved before.

A team formed by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital monitored a large group of participants, some of which took daily Omega-3 fish oil supplements over a long term period, and the rest were given a placebo.

Their meta-analysis of the collected data highlighted that those who took the supplements were less likely to suffer from almost all forms of heart disease, except for stroke. The team observed an 8% reduction in risk for heart attack and coronary heart disease (CHD) death.

Even at low doses, omega-3 was able to reduce the risk of these diseases. But, higher doses were associated with a more significant drop in disease risk.

Inconsistent findings

The reason Omega-3 has been looked to for many years as a preventative measure for CVD is due to its potential impact on decreasing triglycerides, as well as it's ability to lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and counteract irregular heartbeats.

This unsaturated fatty acid is thought to do this by reducing inflammation in the body, which is a major contributing factor to heart disease and strokes, through damage to blood vessels.

It is for this reason that doctors often encouraged the general public to consume fish, which is high in omega-3. However, results from randomized controlled trials have often been inconsistent, with some studies supporting the link and others finding no significant results.

In fact, two other studies were published this year that were not able to find evidence of a benefit of omega-3 against CVD. It was, therefore, important to conduct a large scale trial to gain strong evidence either way, in order to inform people and doctors on whether omega-3 is truly useful in the circumstance of heart disease.

Largest trial to date

The trial was the largest randomized trial of omega-3 that has ever been attempted. Data was collected from over 120,000 adults in locations worldwide, in 13 distinct randomized trials. In increasing the cohort studied, the researchers were able to increase their chances of detecting a real significant impact of omega-3.

Omega-3 as part of a healthy lifestyle

What has been achieved through this large scale randomized trial is that the role of omega-3 on CVD can confidently be supported. They have shown that adding a supplement into your diet can help prevent these kind of illnesses.

While this has positive implications for the prevention and treatment of CVD, it should also be kept in mind that omega-3 does not offer a complete solution to preventing heart problems.

The main focus of prevention should be on fostering a healthy lifestyle, eating a healthy diet and engaging in exercise. omega-3 should be looked at as part of a healthy lifestyle, rather than an ultimate form of disease prevention.

Journal reference:
Hu, Y., et al. (2019). Marine Omega‐3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease: An Updated Meta‐Analysis of 13 Randomized Controlled Trials Involving 127 477 Participants. JAHA. doi/10.1161/JAHA.119.013543.

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