WEDNESDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- For heart failure patients whose condition is controlled with standard care, omega-3 fatty acid supplements appear to improve their condition even more, a small study suggests.
"Adding n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, even in patients that had a major improvement [on standard treatment], showed a further improvement in heart function and exercise capacity," said study co-author Dr. Mihai Gheorghiade, a professor of cardiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
This shows that even in patients who respond to therapy, "we can make them much better," he added. "This opens the door for the potential of a natural therapy -- so-called macronutrients -- in the management of heart failure."
Gheorghiade cautioned that this study is not conclusive, but nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids might extend life and quality of life for these patients.
The report is published in the Jan. 5 online edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Gheorghiade's team randomly assigned 133 heart failure patients with minimal symptoms on standard therapy, which included beta blockers, to high doses (2 grams) of omega-3 fatty acid supplements or a placebo.
After a year, those receiving the omega-3 supplement showed a 10.4 percent increase in heart function, compared with a 5 percent decrease among those taking placebo, the researchers found.
In addition, blood oxygen levels increased 6.2 percent in the omega-3 patients and decreased 4.5 percent in the placebo patients. Also, exercise time went up 7.5 percent in those receiving supplements while it went down 4.8 percent in those receiving placebo, they added.
Moreover, among those taking the supplement the hospitalization rate was 6 percent during the year, compared with 30 percent for those on placebo.
Gheorghiade speculated that
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