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

of margarine per day, which meant ingestion of an average of 226 milligrams of EPA combined with 150 milligrams of DHA omega-3 fatty acids and/or 1.9 grams of ALA.

By the study's end, almost 14 percent of the heart attack patients had experienced another "major cardiovascular event," with some cases ending in death.

None of the low-dose supplements seemed to stave off such events in most of the patients. One exception appeared to be among women ingesting ALA; researchers saw a 27 percent reduction in the risk for further cardiac complications, although that reduction did not quite reach statistical significance.

"The bottom-line finding of the Alpha Omega Trial is that [omega]-3 fatty acids did not reduce the primary endpoint major cardiovascular events," Kromhout said, noting that the ALA finding needs further confirmation.

Dr. Murray A. Mittleman, director of the cardiovascular epidemiology research unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said he was "not that surprised by these results."

"Other studies have shown no benefit from omega-3, other than specifically protecting against cardiac death linked to arrhythmia among patients who have just survived a heart attack," Mittleman noted. It is during this acute post-attack period, he explained, when patients are most vulnerable to a subsequent event.

"But here, in some cases the patients they looked at are years following their first heart attack when they start taking these supplements," he stressed. "So, that's a big difference in what kind of patient they're examining. And they're also not just looking at preventable fatalities but all heart-related events that follow. And on top of that, the supplement doses they use here are very low, much lower than those used in prior studies."

"So it might be big differences in study design that account for this new finding," Mittleman cautioned. "In any case, I would say this is absolutely
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