Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce Heart Disease?


Has your doctor advised you to include omega-3-rich food in your diet to reduce the risk of developing heart disease?


One person dies every 34 sec from cardiovascular disease in the USA with heart disease. The situation is getting grimmer every day, and doctors and researchers are working hand-in-hand to reduce the number of people developing heart ailments.


Several pieces of research have shown that including Omega-rich food in the diet can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Let us understand how omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of developing a heart attack.


Does supplementation with marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of a heart attack?


The American Heart Association advocates that Americans eat fish at least twice a week to lower their risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). A diet high in marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids like Mussel oil, which includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), from fish and seafood sources lowers rates of inflammation and heart disease risk.


Observational studies show that men with CHD who had a previous heart attack significantly reduced their risk of a subsequent heart attack if they consumed more omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. A different trial of men with angina reported increased associations of CHD-related deaths when consuming more omega-3 fatty acids.


Aung et al. (year) published an article investigating if supplementation with marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids has any associations with reductions in fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease in the Journal of American Medical Association Cardiology. The study included a meta-analysis of 10 randomized control trials comparing people in the treatment group versus the placebo group for at least one year in populations with previous CHD, a stroke, or a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.


The previous trials reported conflicting results without being able to substantiate support for or against omega-3 consumption. For example, the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto Miocardico (GISSI)-Prevenzione trial involved 11,323 recent survivors of a heart attack. Patients who took omega-3 fatty acids experienced a 10% reduction in major cardiovascular events compared to the placebo group. The Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study (JELIS) trial involved 18, 645 participants with a total cholesterol of 243.24 mg/dL or higher. Almost 20% had a prior CHD in those who took omega-3 fatty acids, and 19% reported a reduction in CHD events. However, none of the placebo-controlled trials reported any significant decrease in CHD or mortality. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude whether omega-3 fatty acids make a substantial difference in reducing cardiovascular events compared to taking a statin.


In summary, the current meta-analysis involved 77,917 individuals who took marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids for an average of 4.4 years. These individuals showed no significant reductions in fatal or non-fatal CHD or any major vascular events (stroke, heart attack, and peripheral arterial disease). The researchers concluded that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids did not cause lower mortality or cancer. Since this was a meta-analysis, a significant amount of data was gathered together instead of individual analysis. Thus, researchers concluded that the AHA recommendation to take Omega-3 fatty acids to prevent coronary heart disease is unnecessary and shows no benefit for the consumer.


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