Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Protect Heart
EPA, a Fatty Acid in Fish Oil, May Prevent Nonfatal Heart Problems
WebMD News Archive
Fish is a staple of the traditional Japanese diet. That may partly explain
why EPA pills didn't seem to curb fatal heart events. "Our patients could
possibly all have had intakes of fish that were above the threshold for
prevention of fatal coronary events or sudden cardiac death," write
Yokoyama and colleagues.
The researchers didn't ask patients about their diets.
Yokoyama's team also warns that the findings might not apply to people who
don't eat lots of fish. "EPA might affect risk only at very high levels of
fish intake, such as those common in Japan," they write.
Lastly, the researchers note that they only tested EPA pills, not fish or
fish oil. The pills were made in Japan by Mochida Pharmaceutical Co., which
funded the study.
Curbing Heart Problems
The study appears in The Lancet, along with an editorial by Dariush
Mozaffarian, MD, MPH, DrPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Mozaffarian points out that the study didn't include a group taking an
inactive pill (placebo) along with their statins.
Still, the drop in nonfatal heart events in those taking EPA and statins
"should not necessarily be discounted," writes Mozaffarian.
He commends the Japanese researchers for their work and calls for further
Mozaffarian takes a back-to-basics approach to preventing heart problems.
For instance, he notes in his editorial that modest dietary changes are less
risky, less costly, and more accessible than drugs, invasive procedures, or
"We must curb our infatuation with downstream risk factors and
treatments, and focus on the fundamental risk factors for cardiovascular
disease: dietary habits, smoking, and physical activity," writes