March 12, 2008 -- Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent sudden coronary death, Dutch researchers report.
But the occasional slab of salmon or other fatty fish may not do the trick; following a fishy diet for the long run may be more effective, according to the researchers, who included Martinette Streppel, MSc, of the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
Streppel's team studied 40 years of data on 1,373 Dutch men age 40 and older.
Men who reported eating an average of 6 grams of fatty fish daily were 55% less likely than men who ate no fatty fish to die of sudden coronary death.
Those benefits were strongest before age 50 and with long-term consumption of fatty fish.
The researchers chalk up the results to the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, found in fish including salmon and mackerel.
The Dutch study doesn't show exactly how much EPA and DHA it takes to prevent sudden coronary death, or what fish the men ate. But the findings show that eating lots of fatty fish may not be better than eating a moderate amount; the big gap was between fish eaters and those who don't eat fish at all.
The findings will be presented today in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the American Heart Association's 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology.