By Alan Mozes
MONDAY, September 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) – Millions of Americans take a fish oil supplement every day in hopes of strengthening their heart health. Research suggests that they may be on the right track.
According to a team led by Dr. JoAnn Manson’s most recent review of data from 13 previous studies found that daily use of omega-3 fish oil supplements was linked to a significant reduction in heart attack risk. She is Professor of Epidemiology at the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, Boston.
Daily use of the supplement – typically around 840 milligrams per day – was also associated with a lower overall risk of dying from heart disease.
In total, the 13 studies included data on more than 120,000 adults, a sample size 64% larger than any other conducted to date, the researchers said.
While the results are encouraging, fish oil remains only one factor in heart health, Manson said in a school press release.
“Public health recommendations should focus on increasing fish consumption, an overall heart-healthy diet, physical activity and other healthy lifestyle habits,” she said. “However, this study suggests that omega-3 supplementation may play a role in eligible patients.”
Overall, Manson’s team concluded that people who took a fish oil supplement every day had an 8% lower risk of heart attack or death from coronary artery disease.
The study failed to show that fish oil supplements directly improved heart health. Finally, people taking the supplements might do other things to strengthen their cardiovascular system.
However, the researchers indicated that the results showed a “dose-response” relationship: the more omega-3 fish oil a person consumed each day, the better their protection against heart disease was.
In practice, this could mean that “high-dose” supplementation – a daily regimen that exceeds the 840 mg threshold that is the subject of most research – could be of even greater benefit than lower doses.
There was one exception to these trends, however: no evidence was found that omega-3 fish oil also helped reduce the risk of stroke, the researchers reported.
Two heart health experts agreed that the supplement can help the heart but should not be viewed as a panacea.
“Supplementation only reduces the risk” of heart problems, said Katrina Hartog, clinical nutritionist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “As always, address the main risk factors [for heart disease] can be of greatest use in reducing the risk of chronic illness. “
But she said the new data should reassure Americans that fish oil helps.
Dr. Guy Mintz leads cardiovascular health at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, New York, Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Events. “
How could fish oil work its magic? According to Mintz, “the mechanism of benefit is unknown, but it may be due to anti-inflammatory and / or arrhythmic effects.”
He believes the supplements may be most helpful for those at known risk of heart disease.
Based on the new data review, “Every physician should have a discussion with their patients at increased cardiovascular risk – including those with diabetes, those with heart disease, or those with stents and a history of coronary bypass – to see how adding an omega-3 Supplementation at an optimal dosage could further reduce the risk of future cardiac events, “Mintz said.
The new study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published online September 30 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.