Omega-3 fatty acids linked to lower cardiac arrest risk

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Oct 7, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Eating cold water oily fish or taking long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids  supplements may helpreduce risk of primary cardiac arrest, according to a study in Journal of American Medical Association.

The study led by David S. Siscovick, MD, MPH and colleagues did not establish an association between intake of seafood and risk of of primary cardiac arrest.  It assessed how dietary intake of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids affect a biomarker, which is linked to cardiac arrest.

The population based case-control study involved 334 case patients with primary cardiac arrest aged 25 to 74 residing in Seattle and suburban King County, Washington who were admitted for treatment from 1988 through 1994.  Also in the study were 493 controls matched for age and sex who were randomly picked from the same community.

All cardiac arrest patients and controls were free of diagnosed heart disease, major comorbidity, and use of fish oil supplements at baseline. 

Spouses of case patients and controls were interviewed to quantify dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake from seafood during the month prior to cardiac arrest events and other clinical characteristics.  

It was found that compared with no dietary intake of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an intake of 5.5 gram of n-3 per month was correlated with a  50 percent reduction in risk of primary cardiac arrest after adjustment for potential confounders.

Red blood cell membrane fatty acid composition, a biomarker indicating dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake, were also analysed  in blood samples from 82 cases and 108 controls.

It was found that when n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a red blood cell membrane reached 5.0 percent of total fatty acids, compared to 3.3 percent, the risk of primary cardiac arrest was reduced by 70 percent.

The researchers concluded "Dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from seafood is associated with a reduced risk of primary cardiac arrest."

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