According to Reuters health, In a new study of some 3,000 older adults, those with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were 30 percent less likely to develop an irregular heartbeat over the next 14 years than peers with the lowest blood levels of omega-3s.
Some preceding studies have suggested that people eating a lot of fish have a lower risk of dveloping atrial fibrillation to begin with. But others haven’t found the same link. Omega-3s tied to lower risk of heart arrhythmia.
The omega-3 fatty acids mentioned in the new study — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are discovered in oily fish and some enriched foods, like eggs, as well as in fish oil products.
A 30 percent reduction in risk would mean that instead of 25 out of every 100 people developing a condition, only about 17 out of every 100 people would get it.
Another study from Finland used the same approach of measuring fatty acids in the blood and found a similar reduction in the risk of atrial fibrillation among those with the highest levels.
Another study from Finland used the same approach of measuring fatty acids in the blood and found a similar reduction in the risk of atrial fibrillation among those with the maximum levels.
Mozaffarian’s group tried to tease out which of the omega-3 fats might be responsible for the lower risk, and found that high DHA levels were linked to a 23 percent lower risk for atrial fibrillation while EPA and DPA were not tied to any reduced risk.
DHA is highly gathered in heart muscle cell membranes, Mozaffarian and his colleagues point out in their report, published in the journal Circulation. Alonso cautioned that this study doesn’t prove eating fish is responsible for the lower rate of atrial fibrillation, however, he said there is some idea that the fatty acids found in fish could work by stabilizing the excitability of heart muscle cells.
He said that the results seem promising enough to warrant further studies experimenting with using fish oil as a potential preventive measure against atrial fibrillation.
An earlier study of fish oil pills found that they didn’t help the symptoms of atrial fibrillation in people who had already developed the arrhythmia (see Reuters Health story of November 15, 2010).
The American Heart Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other groups recommend eating fish at least twice a week.
Source: Health news, Reuters