Fish Oil Prevents Deadly Heart Rhythms.
Frozen, Fresh Fish Best Choices
WebMD News Archive
May 27, 2003 -- There's nothing fishy about fish oil's ability
to protect your heart, according to a new study. Researchers say the omega-3
fatty acids found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and bluefish can prevent
sudden cardiac death by blocking fatal heart rhythms.
Sudden cardiac death -- a sudden, unexpected death caused by
loss of heart function -- is blamed for more than 300,000 deaths annually in
the U.S. Researchers say sudden cardiac death accounts for more than 50% of
Eating fish has long been associated with a reduced risk of
heart disease, but until now researchers have been unable to provide laboratory
evidence to explain this heart-healthy effect.
Why Fish Oil Is Good
In a new study, published in the May 27 issue of
Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers
found that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils are stored in the cell membranes
of heart cells and can prevent sudden cardiac death by blocking potentially
fatal heart rhythms.
In an animal study, researchers found that adding omega-3 fatty
acids to heart cells prevented deadly heart rhythms that would have been
normally induced by toxins. Researchers say this protective effect might
explain the lower rates of heart-related death found in previous studies on
What's the Best Way to Get Your Fish Oil?
- Fresh fish or frozen fish are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, says
researcher Alexander Leaf, MD, professor of clinical medicine emeritus at
Harvard University, in a news release.
- Canned tuna packed in water is also a good source. But Leaf says tuna
packed in oil is not a good choice because the extra oil will extract the
beneficial omega-3 fatty acids from the fish.
Time to Get Serious
In an editorial that accompanies the study, David S. Siscovick,
MD, MPH, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues say these
findings clearly show that it's time to get serious about the American Heart
Association's dietary guidelines, which recommend eating one to two fish meals,
particularly fatty fish, per week.
They say eating modest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in
healthy people and low-dose fish oil supplements in people with a history of
heart attack are low-cost, safe ways to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac
death. Read more about sudden cardiac death.