Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Aid Heart Attack Healing

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help the heart heal itself after a heart attack, according to a new study. High doses, derived from fish oil and taken daily for six months after a heart attack, helped reduce scarring in the heart muscle and increase its ability to pump blood, researchers found. “Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for decades and have a direct beneficial effect on the heart,” said senior author Dr. Raymond Y. Kwong, director of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. But in two trials of fish oil for heart attack survivors, the results had been conflicting, he told Reuters Health by phone.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

One trial found that the supplements did reduce the risk of death shortly after heart attack, while another found no benefit. Those trials administered one gram of the supplement per day. For the new study, 360 heart attack survivors were randomly assigned to take either omega-3 supplements or a placebo, starting within a month of hospitalization and continued for six months. Patients in the omega-3 group took four times the dose as those in the previous two trials: four one-gram capsules of Lovaza, a prescription fish oil, every day. The placebo group took corn oil capsules.

All patients received lifestyle counseling and were monitored by doctors to make sure their drug regimens did not interact adversely with additional fish oil or placebo pills. They had cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before starting the capsules and after therapy six months later, according to a report released by the journal Circulation. After six months, compared to the placebo group, those in the fish oil group had less fibrosis, or thickening and scarring, of the heart muscle in the region of the heart attack. Though heart attack survival has greatly increased with improved treatments, heart failure later is still common, he said. “There’s no way” that eating fish will provide the same amount of omega-3 that patients got in this trial, although in general it’s not a bad idea to try to eat more fatty fish, Kwong said. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fatty fish like salmon or albacore tuna per week.

Comments are closed.