Consuming omega-3 linked to 35% lower risk of fatal heart attack and reduction in coronary heart disease: Study

'Cardiovascular benefits appear to increase with dosage, adding an extra 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day decreased the risk of heart attack even more,' experts revealed


                            Consuming omega-3 linked to 35% lower risk of fatal heart attack and reduction in coronary heart disease: Study
(Getty Images)

Researchers have found strong evidence of the potential benefits of omega-3 in reducing multiple types of cardiovascular risk. According to them, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events, the cause of 7.4 million deaths globally each year, and reduced risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack, including fatal heart attack. Coronary heart disease is a common term for the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries that could lead to a heart attack. 

The study, which assessed the effects of omega-3 on major cardiovascular outcomes, is one of the most comprehensive analyses of the role of omega-3 dosage on cardiovascular prevention to date. The most significant finding was a 35% reduction in a fatal heart attack. The study, which appears online in Mayo Clinic Proceedings published by Elsevier, also shows a 13% reduction in a heart attack. There was a 10% reduction in coronary heart disease events and a 9% reduction in the risk of CHD mortality, reveals the meta-analysis, which is an in-depth review of 40 clinical trials including more than 135,000 participants. 

The research team emphasizes that the findings provide authoritative evidence for consuming more EPA and DHA omega-3 fats as it indicates that EPA and DHA supplementation reduces major cardiovascular outcomes. “The study supports the notion that EPA and DHA intake contributes to cardioprotection, and that whatever patients are getting through the diet, they likely need more,” explains Dr Carl Lavie, a cardiologist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, US, and one of the study authors.

EPA and DHA omega-3s are long-chain, marine-based fatty acids. Eating fish, particularly fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines, is the optimal way to get EPA and DHA omega-3s since fish also provides other beneficial nutrients. However, most people around the world eat much less than the amount of fish recommended, so supplementing with omega-3s helps close the gap, according to experts.

Eating fish, particularly fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines, is the optimal way to get EPA and DHA omega-3s since fish also provides other beneficial nutrients. (Getty Images)

The team also assessed omega-3 dosage, and overall the results reveal that the higher the dose, the better was the overall cardiovascular outcomes. The statistically significant ones were cardiovascular disease events and heart attacks. “Cardiovascular benefits appear to increase with dosage. Adding an extra 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack even more: the risk of cardiovascular disease events decreased by 5.8% and the risk for heart attack decreased by 9%. The study looked at dosages of up to 5,500 mg/day,” the findings state.

According to the experts, the current analysis corroborates the results of an earlier meta-analysis from Harvard School of Public Health, published in 2019, that looked at EPA and DHA dosage using the 13 largest clinical studies. This new paper encompasses more than triple the number of studies, which represents the totality of the evidence to date, they add. “When separate analyses arrive at similar results, that's not only validating, it also underscores the science base needed to inform future intake recommendations. Because this paper included more studies and all dosages, the estimates for a dose-response are more precise and the conclusions stronger,” says co-author Dr Aldo Bernasconi, vice president of data science for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), Salt Lake City, which commissioned the study. 

Dr Lavie suggests that people should consider the benefits of omega-3 supplements, at doses of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day, far higher than what is typical, even among people who regularly eat fish. “Given the safety and diminished potential for interaction with other medications, the positive results of this study strongly suggest that omega-3 supplements are a relatively low-cost, high impact way to improve heart health with few associated risks and should be considered as part of standard preventive treatment for most patients with cardiovascular diseases and those recovering from myocardial infarction,” he recommends. 

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.