Updated on January 20, 2016
Survived a heart attack? Protect with omega 3
Most cardiologists will tell you this: getting a by-pass or a stent is no guarantee of not getting another heart attack. So for those who have damaged their heart muscle after a heart attack, taking omega 3 fatty acids decreases inflammation in the heart and guards against further decline, as per a controlled study by the American College of Cardiology. Patients in the study taking 4 grams of prescription-only omega-3 fatty acid capsules daily for six months after a heart attack showed significant improvements in heart function. They also had significantly less evidence of fibrosis — a thickening or scarring of the areas of the heart remote from the heart attack, which can develop when the surviving heart muscle works harder and under high pressure to compensate for the damage to the heart. The data suggests that patients who were able to mount a substantial change in levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood benefitted the most. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effects and also promote better cardiac healing, as per the study. This is important because other anti-inflammatory agents, including steroids and NSAIDS, have failed to make a difference after myocardial infarction. The daily 4 gram dose is roughly equivalent to someone eating a large, 8-ounce serving of salmon every day for six months. Japanese populations with higher levels of omega-3 and an otherwise similar risk profile to North Americans have lower risks of heart disease and sudden cardiac death because they consume oily fish on a daily basis. The increase in the omega-3 blood content of many patients in the study at six months was similar to levels found in Japanese populations with a diet very rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines contain the most omega-3 fatty acids. For vegetarians not constrained by taking omega 3 via pills, Lovaza, an omega 3 fatty acid pill approved by USFDA for treating triglycerides, is a good option. Other options include Mega 3 tablets by Dr Reddys. When looking for an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, always look for EPA & DHA on the label, as these are the anti-inflammatory agents in oily fish.