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Low-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids Don't Protect Heart Patients
Date:8/30/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Most heart patients who take low-dose omega-3 fatty acid supplements don't appear to gain any additional protection against further cardiac trouble, new Dutch research cautions.

In fact, neither low doses of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are found in fish oil, nor of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), derived from nuts and several vegetable oils, provided any benefit to the vast majority of heart patients, the study showed.

The scientists focused on patients who were already taking medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol and potential clotting. So, the researchers theorized that the poor performance of the supplements may simply reflect the overwhelming power of the medications.

Study author Daan Kromhout, from the division of human nutrition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, is to present the findings Sunday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Stockholm; the study will appear online in the New England Journal of Medicine simultaneously.

In the study, researchers focused on a group of more than 4,800 Dutch heart attack patients between the ages of 60 and 80, slightly more than three-quarters of whom were men.

All had experienced a heart attack at some point in the decade leading up to the study, and all were taking blood pressure medications, anti-clotting drugs and statins.

At the study's start, the patients were instructed to consume (over a period lasting a little over three years) one of four different types of margarines: one supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids; one supplemented with the plant-derived ALA; one supplemented with both omega-3 fatty acids and ALA; and one with no supplements.

The amount of supplementation added to the various margarines was deemed to be "low-dose." During the study, the patients consumed an average of 18.8 grams
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