New studies show older adults who maintain a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were 30% less likely to develop arrhythmia.
A 30 percent lower risk of the most common chronic arrhythmia in the United States population is a pretty big effect,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the new report and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
According to some estimates, up to nine percent of Americans will develop atrial fibrillation, a heart-rhythm abnormality that can lead to stroke and heart failure, by the time they reach their 80s.
There are few treatments for the condition and they largely center on preventing strokes with blood-thinning drugs.
Some previous studies have suggested that people who eat a lot of fish have a lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation to begin with. But others haven’t found the same link.
The omega-3 fatty acids measured in the new study — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are found in oily fish and some enriched foods, like eggs, as well as in fish oil supplements.
The earlier studies relied on questionnaires about how much fish people ate, which can only estimate the levels of omega-3s they ingested, Mozaffarian noted.
“Any given fish species can vary in its omega-3s by 10-fold,” he told Reuters Health.
To get a more accurate measurement of how much fish oil the people in the study actually ingested, the researchers sampled blood from more than 3,300 adults over age 65.
Over 14 years, they tracked the seniors’ health and found that 789 had developed atrial fibrillation.
Those with top-25-percent omega-3 levels in their bloodstreams at the beginning of the study were about 30 percent less likely to end up with the arrhythmia compared to those with bottom-25-percent blood levels of the fatty acids.
The difference in risk isn’t huge, but “these are meaningful reductions in risk” said Dr. Alvaro Alonso, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health who was not involved in this study.
A 30 percent reduction in risk would mean that instead of 25 out of every 100 people developing a condition, only about 17 out of every 100 people would get it.
Another study from Finland used the same approach of measuring fatty acids in the blood and found a similar reduction in the risk of atrial fibrillation among those with the highest levels. (Health News whole story)
I take 2000mg of fish oil every day for my heart along with garlic and other vitamins. Remember to always talk to your doctor before trying or adding anything new to your diet.