To consider the benefit of a fish oil supplement for atherosclerosis it is helpful to briefly define atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) is a key component of coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD, in return, is the leading cause of death among men and women.
Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery. This plaque is made up of deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol and cellular waste products.
As the plaque builds up, the artery walls become thickened and lose their elasticity. In short… they are hardened.
Unfortunately the incidence of atherosclerosis and CHD is on the rise. Not only that, but it is becoming a more serious problem even among the young.
What can be done?
The focus of this page is not to consider all the possibilities for treating CHD. Instead we are focused here on the research supporting the benefit of a fish oil supplement for the reduction or prevention of atherosclerosis.
There has been innumerable studies focused on the health benefits – more particularly, the heart health benefits – of omega-3 supplementation.
But what about the research concerning omega-3 and atherosclerosis?
Well… I am glad you asked. Here are just a two studies.
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Are you sick and tired of just not
Are there health issues – in addition to your heart health – that concern you? Like…
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Did you know that these health problems – as well as more serious chronic diseases – can be the result of …
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This particular study - actually entitled "The Effect of Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Coronary Atherosclerosis" - was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinically controlled trial involving 223 patients with proven coronary artery disease.
That’s a mouthful.
What prompted this study is the abundant information available to support the thesis that the benefit of a fish oil supplement for heart disease is mostly in its content of omega-3. In particular, omega-3 from fish oils reduces the progression of atherosclerosis.
In the discussion section of the study we find these words:
In our study, patients with coronary artery disease who ingested approximately 1.5 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day for 2 years had less progression and more regression of coronary artery disease on coronary angiography than did comparable patients who ingested a placebo.
Our results corroborate a wealth of data supporting an antiatherosclerotic effect of omega-3 fatty acids. We feel justified in concluding that SCIMO showed a modest, but discernible, effect of dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
O.K… One more time…
Thus, fish eaten twice weekly, or fish oil concentrate, can be considered a useful adjunct to the established arsenal of treatments for the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.
An article on the benefit of a fish oil supplement by the above title referenced a study performed at the University Hospital in Basel Switzerland. That study actually combined the results of a number of other studies performed between 1965 and 2003. These studies all compared lipid (fat) lowering drugs or dietary products with placebo.
All combined there were…
The total participants in all combined studies were 137,140 in treatments groups and 138,976 in control groups.
A combined analysis showed that treatment with omega-3 fatty acids (fish and flaxseed oils)reduced overall risk of death by 23% as compared to placebo. Treatment with statin drugs, on the other hand, only reduced overall mortality by 13% as compared to placebo.
Further, deaths from cardiovascular causes were 32 % lower in the omega-3 group while statin drugs produced a 13% reduction compared to placebo.
In this study it was speculated that the reduction in mortality rates for the omega-3 groups was caused by the…
… effects of the omega-3.
W.E. Connor with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Clinical Nutrition at the Oregon Health Sciences University, in Portland, OR has this to say about the benefit of a fish oil supplement…
The EPA and DHA contained in fish oil fed to experimental animals actually inhibited development of atherosclerosis. There is evidence in both pigs and monkeys that dietary fish oil prevents atherosclerosis by actions other than reducing plasma cholesterol concentrations…
Atherosclerotic plaque formation may also be lessened by the reduction in growth factors after fish-oil consumption, particularly platelet-derived growth factor, a potent mitogen for cellular growth. Not only is platelet-derived growth factor diminished by fish oil consumption, but its messenger RNA is reduced.
Because atherosclerosis begins with cellular proliferation in response to the influx of cholesterol-rich lipoproteins, the inhibition of this proliferation would greatly reduce the growth of the atherosclerotic plaque.
There is no lack of evidence concerning the benefit of a fish oil supplement for the reduction of atherosclerosis. Remember, this is particularly important because atherosclerosis can lead to coronary heart disease. Add that bit of information to the fact that omega-3 has also been shown to…
… and you have one powerful tool in your arsenal against heart disease.
For overall heart health and the reduction or prevention of atherosclerosis, omega-3 from fish oils is hard to beat.
For more great information on omega-3 and how it can help you please click here.
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