Meta-analysis associates lower risk of heart failure with greater omega-3 intake

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The December, 2012 issue of the journal Clinical Nutrition reported the results of a meta-analysis which indicates a protective benefit for omega-3 fatty acids against the development of heart failure.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University in Boston selected seven prospective studies that included a total of 176,441 subjects for their analysis. Studies were limited to those that evaluated the association between fish intake, or eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA, which are present in high amounts in oily fish) and heart failure risk. A total of 5,480 cases of heart failure occurred over 7 to 16 years of follow-up.

Among the five studies that examined the association between fish intake and heart failure, a 15 percent lower risk of the condition occurred among subjects whose consumption was categorized as high in comparison with those whose intake was low. When the six studies that evaluated the association between EPA and DHA intake and heart failure were analyzed, a higher intake was associated with a 14 percent lower risk.

The authors remark that EPA and DHA have been associated with a decrease in fatal coronary heart disease as well as improvements in hemodynamics, left ventricular function and inflammation. Because the studies included in the analysis were observational in nature, they suggest that their findings be confirmed in a large, randomized trial. “If confirmed in a large double blind, placebo controlled randomized clinical trial, EPA/DHA could be added to the list of lifestyle factors and pharmacological agents that can be used for the primary prevention of heart failure,” Luc Djoussé and coauthors conclude.

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