Fatty acids found in oily fish are a great medicine for heart attack patients, researchers claim.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School have conducted research into the benefits of omega-3 and found that taking such supplements can be beneficial to those people recovering from heart attacks.
In the study, the researchers tracked 360 heart attack survivors – half were given a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids and half were not.
The omega-3 group was given 4g of capsules every day for six months after the attack – roughly four times the normal dose, and was closely monitored due to the high amount.
Scans showed that after six months they had 5.6 per cent less scar tissue in their heart muscle, compared to those who did not take the supplements.
Their left ventricle, the chamber of the heart responsible for pumping blood around the body, was able to squeeze 5.8 per cent stronger tighter.
The omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in high levels in sardines, salmon and trout, allowed the heart to contract better, and also reduced the fibrosis in the region that is not damage, the researchers reported.
“Heart failure is still a major problem after a heart attack despite all the therapy we have and the advances in interventional care,” said Dr Raymond Kwong, senior author of the study and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“Our findings show that omega-3 fatty acids are a safe and effective treatment in improving cardiac remodeling, so it may be promising in reducing the incidence of heart failure or death, which are still major healthcare burdens to patients who suffer a heart attack.”
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, representing almost a third of all deaths. The British Heart Foundation estimates that around 50,000 men and 32,000 women have a heart attack each year in England. Most heart attacks occur in people aged over 45.
The scientists are not sure exactly why omega-3 helped the heart recover following an attack, but suspect these fatty acids reduce inflammation.
The U.K. National Health Service (NHS) recommends that people eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily, to get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
The study was first published in the Circulation medical journal.
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