THURSDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Combining omega-3 fatty acids with blood-thinning drugs may reduce the risk of heart attacks in patients who've had stents placed in their coronary arteries, a new European study suggests.
While other research suggests that foods rich in omega-3s, including fatty fish such as salmon, help reduce the risk of heart problems in those with existing coronary artery disease, the new study is thought to be the first to look at the effect of the omega-3s on those treated with blood-thinning medications after stent placement.
In people with heart disease, a stent is a small tube placed in a coronary artery to keep it open and to allow the normal flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. But if a blood clot forms at the stent site, it can block blood flow and result in life-threatening problems such as a heart attack.
"Our results demonstrated improved clot properties and decreased thrombin [a clot promoter] formation after treatment with the fish oil capsules," wrote Dr. Grzegorz Gajos of John Paul II Hospital in Krakow, Poland, in the report.
Gajos and colleagues studied 54 patients, on average about 63 years old. They all had their clogged arteries opened by a catheter procedure. They then had stents inserted to keep the vessels open.
All were on the standard medical therapy used in these patients, including a daily dose of aspirin and an anti-platelet drug, clopidogrel (Plavix), for four weeks after the stent was installed.
Twenty-four patients were randomly assigned to receive a placebo pill daily and 30 patients received 1,000 milligrams of omega-3s (EPA and DHA) in pill form daily. The study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial -- meaning that neither the patients nor the researchers knew who was getting the omega-3s and who was getting the placebo (or sham treatment).
The researchers found that those who too
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