Omega-3 fatty acids from fish not only help keep cardiovascular diseases at bay in healthy folks, but also reduce the incidence of cardiac events and mortality in patients with existing heart disease, mounting evidence suggests.
A novel study, which has been published in the August 11, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, extensively reviews data from a broad range of studies in tens of thousands of patients and sets forth suggested daily targets for omega-3 consumption.
"This isn't just hype; we now have tremendous and compelling evidence from very large studies, some dating back 20 and 30 years, that demonstrate the protective benefits of omega-3 fish oil in multiple aspects of preventive cardiology," said Carl Lavie, M.D., F.A.C.C., medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention, Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans, LA, and lead author of the article.
"The strongest evidence of a cardioprotective effect of omega-3s appears in patients with established cardiovascular disease and following a heart attack with up to a 30 percent reduction in CV-related death," the expert added.
Dietary intake of fish oil can also decrease the risk of atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, heart attack, sudden cardiac death and even health failure.
Lavie adds that although there is a smaller benefit in reducing heart failure death, this is still very impressive given patients' grave prognosis.
"There are clear health and heart benefits associated with increasing one's intake of foods that are rich in Omega-3s, including oily fish like salmon, sardines, trout, herring, and oysters" said Lavie.
"Patients should talk with their doctors about whether a fish oil supplement is needed to get the right amount and, in turn, benefit from the associated cardiovascular protection," the expert added.