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TAG | Heart Arrhythmia

Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their heart-health benefits. From the reduction of triglyceride levels, balance of inflammation, and prevention of coronary events in people with heart disease to the improvement of abnormal cholesterol, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish affect the heart in many ways.

A recent study published in the journal Circulation adds to the support of omega-3s for the heart. The study found that the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a 29 percent reduction in the risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common form of heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, in older individuals.

The study was an observational study that needs further investigation to confirm the association. Because the study examined prevention, rather than treatment, of heart arrhythmia, it has the potential to lead to very important research. The researchers stated, “Given the aging of the population, the significant and growing public health burden of atrial fibrillation, and the limited treatment options once atrial fibrillation develops, our results highlight the need to investigate atrial physiological and arrhythmic mechanisms affected by total and individual [omega-3 fatty acids] and to test the efficacy of [omega-3 fatty acids] for preventing new onset of atrial fibrillation among older adults in a randomized intervention.”

Heart arrhythmia is just one of an array of cardiovascular diseases—the number one killer of Americans. If you can find ways to prevent heart disease by addressing proper nutrition, then why not include an omega-3 supplement into your diet?

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Omega-3s and Heart Health

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care has found that low doses of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosaheaxaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) reduced the risk of heart arrhythmia-related events in diabetic patients who had previously suffered a heart attack.

1,014 diabetic patients, aged 60 to 80 years old, were randomized into four groups and consumed margarine that contained either 223 mg EPA and 149 mg DHA, 1.9 g ALA, both EPA/DHA and ALA, or no omega-3 fatty acids every day for 40 months. The group that consumed the margarine with EPA/DHA and ALA experienced an 84 percent lower risk of arrhythmia-related events and a 72 percent lower risk of arrhythmia-related events and fatal coronary events when compared to the group consuming the plain margarine. Heart arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat, and can lead to cardiac arrest.

The authors of the study suggest a few possible reasons why these omega-3s might be helpful in diabetics with heart disease. One, they might play a role in regulating insulin sensitivity, an important factor in diabetes. Two, they may help to lower blood sugar levels. And three, their anti-inflammatory properties may help to reverse insulin resistance. All these factors can lead to heart disease if unaddressed.

More studies will be done to determine the precise role each omega-3 plays in heart arrhythmia and heart disease, but this study adds to the thousands of studies illustrating the heart-healthy benefits of omega-3 oils.

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