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Fish Oils May Prevent and Treat Heart Disease
Date:8/5/2009

Review of studies involving 40,000 people points up benefits

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- A new review shows that the omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish not only prevent cardiovascular disease, but may even help treat it.

"A lot of people know that omega-3 fatty acids are a good thing, but have thought of them in the area of nutritional or health foods," said study author Dr. Carl J. Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. "They don't realize there is so much data, a lot of data from big studies, that they are not only preventive but also help in therapy for a number of conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, heart attack, atherosclerosis and heart failure."

The report in the Aug. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology cites four trials with almost 40,000 participants that show benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, in treatment after heart attack and, most recently, in heart failure patients.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are such an old story that such studies can go unnoticed, Lavie said. "If you polled cardiologists about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know if they would recognize how much has been done in this area," he noted.

As far back as 2002, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement endorsing omega-3 fatty acid intake, from fish or supplements. It recommended specific amounts of omega-3 fatty acids each day for people in general, with greater intake recommended for people with heart disease.

"For the general population, it should be 500 milligrams a day," Lavie said. "If you have heart disease, it should be 800 or 1,000 milligrams a day."

Lavie includes himself in the second category, because "I have a family history of heart disease. I eat a lot of fish and take a supplement jus
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