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Fish oil may help the heart beat mental stress
Date:5/22/2013

Bethesda, Md. (May 22, 2013)The omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil have long been thought to protect against cardiovascular diseaseso much so that the American Heart Association currently recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week, particularly fatty varieties rich in omega 3s. However, the mechanism behind this protective effect still remains a mystery. In a new study, scientists led by Jason R. Carter of Michigan Technological University shed light on this phenomenon by providing evidence that fish oil might specifically counteract the detrimental effects of mental stress on the heart. Their findings show that volunteers who took fish oil supplements for several weeks had a blunted response to mental stress in several measurements of cardiovascular health, including heart rate and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), part of the "fight or flight" response, compared to volunteers who took olive oil instead. The results may explain why taking fish oil could be beneficial to the heart and might eventually help doctors prevent heart disease in select populations.

The article is entitled "Fish Oil and Neurovascular Reactivity to Mental Stress in Humans." It appears in the May edition of the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society. It is available online at http://bit.ly/10j0CSS

Methodology

Carter and his colleagues worked with 67 adult volunteers. At the beginning of the study, each volunteer underwent a battery of tests to assess cardiovascular function, including heart rate, blood pressure, MSNA, and blood flow through the forearm and calf. These tests were performed first when the volunteers were at rest, and then again while they were performing a mental arithmetic test while the investigator encouraged them to hurry, a situation designed to induce acute mental st
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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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