New study shows omega-3 benefits heart health and decreases risk for heart attack.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world and is the cause of death in approximately 17.9 million people annually. Poor health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking lead to cardiovascular disease.
There are many prevention strategies to improve heart health and prevent cardiovascular diseases. One of the most well-known is eating foods high in omega-3 acids, such as fish. Currently, the National Institutes of Health has set the adequate intake level for omega-3 fatty acids a little more than one gram for adults.
Research sponsored by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) was recently completed reviewing 40 clinical trials on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. The meta-analysis – pooling the results of these studies – was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
There are three main omega-3 fatty acids that have been studied: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This analysis focused on EPA and DHA and examined data from all randomized clinical trials published before 2019 that were investigating their use for improving heart health.
The review included only studies using EPA and DHA as dietary supplements. All studies included were graded for the strength of evidence. Their results were statistically analyzed and relative risks of cardiovascular disease events, heart attack, and fatal heart attack were determined for the dosage of EPA and DHA used in the study.
All studies reviewed indicated the omega-3 benefits were lowered risk of fatal heart attack, heart attack, coronary heart disease event, and death from coronary heart disease. The review also provided evidence that the higher the dosage of omega-3, the lower the risk of coronary heart disease events.
Based on the data provided by the review, the study authors recommend supplementing diets with EPA and DHA by eating foods such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines. However, Dr. Carl Lavie, one of the study authors said in a press release, “People should consider the benefits of omega-3 supplements, at doses of 1000 to 2000 mg per day – far higher than what is typical, even among people who regularly eat fish.”
1. Cardiovascular diseases. Who.int. https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases/#tab=tab_1. Published 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020.
2. Office of Dietary Supplements – Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Ods.od.nih.gov. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/. Published 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020.
3. Bernasconi A, Weist M, Lewis C, Milani R, Laukkanen J. Effect of Omega-3 Dosage on Cardiovascular Outcomes. Mayo Clin Proc. 2020. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2020.08.034
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