Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
A new study shows daily supplements of the fatty acid found in fish oil may reduce the risk of sudden death in patients who have recently suffered a heart attack.
Patients who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements had a 42 percent reduction in sudden cardiac deaths three months after suffering a heart attack. The risk of sudden death is highest in the first months after a heart attack, which is caused most often by irregular heartbeats, called arrhythmias.
Researchers in Italy believe fatty acids play an important role in regulating the electrical activity of heart muscle cells, stabilizing them so they are resistant to arrhythmias. They analyzed data from more than 11,000 patients who suffered a recent heart attack. After three months, patients who took the fish oil supplements had significantly lower mortality rates than those who received standard medical treatment. They also fared better than those who received lifestyle counseling, vitamin E, or a placebo.
Study authors say further research is needed to confirm the results of using fish oil supplements alone. However, the American Heart Association already recommends that all individuals consume two servings of fish twice a week to promote heart health.