Fish Oils May Be Lifesavers
Fatty Acids in Fish Might Save More Lives Than Defibrillators, Experts Say
Sept. 1, 2006 - Fish oils in fatty fish like salmon might be even better
than heart devices called defibrillators at preventing sudden death from heart
"Choosing fish two or three times a week is a good idea," researcher
Thomas Kottke, MD, MSPH, tells WebMD.
"Grilled, baked, or broiled -- not fried," he adds. "Fried fish
appears to lose all of its benefits."
The study by Kottke and colleagues will appear in the American Journal
of Preventive Medicine's October edition.
Kottke works in St. Paul, Minn., at Regions Hospital's Heart Center.
Sudden Death Risk
Kottke's team created a computer model to check sudden death risk in a
fictional group of people aged 30-84 in Olmstead County, Minn.
The researchers tested several scenarios.
In one scenario, people ate adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from
fish or fish oil supplements (in reality, the typical Western diet is short on
omega-3 fatty acids).
In another scenario, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were available
in people's homes and in all public areas.
AEDs are used to shock the heart back into action if it develops a fatal
rhythm problem that can result in sudden death.
In a third scenario, people who needed implantable defibrillators because of
failure got those devices. Heart failure greatly increases the
chance of sudden death.
Fish Oils Trumped Defibrillators
All three scenarios lowered sudden death risk. But omega-3 fatty acids
yielded the best results -- even in healthy people.
Sudden death risk dropped 6.4% with adequate omega-3 fatty acid intake,
compared with 3.3% for implantable defibrillators, and less than 1% with easy
access to AEDS, the study shows.
What's more, about three-quarters of the imaginary lives saved in the
omega-3 group were healthy people, note Kottke and colleagues.
Defibrillators Added Benefit
The researchers aren't saying defibrillators don't work. Those devices can
save lives, Kottke's team writes.
In fact, sudden death risk was reduced most by combining all three scenarios
- getting enough omega-3s, distributing AEDs, and giving appropriate patients
But when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, the old saying that an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure may sum up the study's findings.