Fish oil and coronary disease: A possible treatment

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A report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology provides further evidence that some patients with weakened hearts may benefit from eating a diet high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These fatty acids are typically found in fish oil. The study follows on a larger trial showing similar gains in a slightly different population of heart patients.

In the most recent study, patients with mildly depressed heart function from “dilated cardiomyopathy” — a condition of unknown cause — ingesting these fatty acids had a relative improvement of 15 percent in left ventricular ejection fraction when compared with a control group receiving placebos. The recipients of the PUFAs also had 13 percent improvement in their exercise capacity.

The most recent study was of just 133 patients, and it was only of sufferers from non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy with minimal symptoms. Most cases of heart failure result from heart attacks (“ischemic”) or hypertension.

“Even so,” ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross says, “the results of the study were impressive, and they were consistent with the earlier, larger study. Moreover, the study showed no adverse effects to the treatment. More research is needed, and we don’t advise that patients seek this out as a panacea. But it may be something for patients to discuss with their doctors.”