Question by Caysie101: How do omega-3 fatty acids enhance heart health ?
Answer by avsubbarao
The role of Omega 3 FA in Cardiovascular disease is now established.
n 1999, the GISSI-Prevenzione Investigators reported in the Lancet, the results of major clinical study in 11,324 patients with a recent myocardial infarction. Treatment 1 gram per day of n−3 fatty acids reduced the occurrence of death, cardiovascular death and sudden cardiac death by 20%, 30% and 45% respectively. These beneficial effects were seen already from three months onwards.
In 2006 a paper in the the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and a second JAMA review that both indicated decreases in total mortality and cardiovascular incidents (i.e. myocardial infarctions) associated with the regular consumption of fish and fish oil supplements.
In the March 2007 edition of the journal Atherosclerosis, 81 Japanese men with unhealthy blood sugar levels were randomly assigned to receive 1800 mg daily of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) with the other half being a control group. The thickness of the carotid arteries and certain measures of blood flow were measured before and after supplementation. This went on for approximately two years. A total of 60 patients (30 in the E-EPA group and 30 in the control group) completed the study. Those given the EPA had a statistically significant decrease in the thickness of the carotid arteries along with improvement in blood flow. The authors indicated that this was the first demonstration that administration of purified EPA improves the thickness of carotid arteries along with improving blood flow in patients with unhealthy blood sugar levels.
In another study published in the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy March 2007, patients with high triglycerides and poor coronary artery health were given 4 grams a day of a combination of EPA and DHA along with some monounsaturated fatty acids. Those patients with very unhealthy triglyceride levels (above 500 mg/dl) reduced their triglycerides on average 45% and their VLDL cholesterol by more than 50%. VLDL is a bad type of cholesterol and elevated triglycerides can also be deleterious for cardiovascular health.
Another study on the benefits of EPA was published in The Lancet in March 2007. This study involved over 18,000 patients with unhealthy cholesterol levels. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either 1,800 mg a day of E-EPA with a statin drug or a statin drug alone. The trial went on for a total of five years. It was found at the end of the study those patients in the E-EPA group had superior cardiovascular function. Non-fatal coronary events were also significantly reduced in the E-EPA group. The authors concluded that EPA is a promising treatment for prevention of major coronary events, especially non-fatal coronary events.
Similar to those who follow a Mediterranean diet, Arctic-dwelling Inuit - who consume high amounts of n−3 fatty acids from fatty fish - also tend to have higher proportions of n−3, increased HDL cholesterol and decreased triglycerides (fatty material that circulates in the blood) and less heart disease. Eating walnuts (the ratio of n−3 to n−6 is circa 1:4 respectively) was reported to lower total cholesterol by 4% relative to controls when people also ate 27% less cholesterol.
A study carried out involving 465 women showed serum levels of eicosapentaenoic acid is inversely related to the levels of anti-oxidized-LDL antibodies. Oxidative modification of LDL is thought to play an important role in the development of atherosclerosis.
So the mechanisms involved are:
1 Reduced oxidation of LDL cholesterol
2 Direct action on endothelium of blood vessels
3 Reduction of triglycerides.
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