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Marine n-3 Fatty Acids Cut Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis

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By David Liu, PHD

It's been known that rheumatoid arthritis is linked to cardiovascular disease.  Taking dietary supplements like marine n-3 fatty acids or omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent both health conditions, according to a report in Current Pharmaceutical Design.

G. Rontoyanni and co-authors suggested that the link between rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease is chronic systemic inflammation which leads to joint destruction and disability in rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis in cardiovascular patients.

In the report, the authors highlighted a potential double effect of dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on both cardiovascular risk reduction and disease control in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

The authors said studies have already shown that supplementation of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids help prevent primary and secondary cardiovascular disease by affecting blood pressure, dyslipidemia, thrombosis and inflammation, which are associated also with rheumatoid arthritis.  Vascular dysfunctions and abnormal morphology found in heart patients were also found in arthritis patients suggesting that both conditions are cross-linked.

At least 6 out of 14 well controlled trials showed that DHA and EPA supplements decreased joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, according to the report.

Although n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have not been as extensively tested to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, the evidence from studies on cardiovascular disease suggests that omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA may also help patients with rheumatoid arthritis.