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D.iet & H.ealth : H.eart & B.lood Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Omega 3 fatty acids better than defibrillators
By Ben Wasserman
Sep 1, 2006, 11:18

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Sept. 1 ( - Omega 3 fatty acids may be better than automated external defibrillators in homes and public places or implanted defibrillators when it comes to prevention of sudden cardiac deaths, a new study suggests.

The study, which was published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, was conducted in a computer-simulated population of 100,000 people that resembled that of Olmsted County, Minn., in 2002.

Thomas Kottke, MD, a cardiologist at the Heart Center, Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. and colleagues found that raising omega-3 fatty acids levels in the simulated individuals lowered overall death rates in the stimulated population by 6.4 percent

By contrast, automated external defibrillators or AEDs reduced death rates only by 0.8 percent. Implanted defibrillators (ICDs) reduced the risk by 3.3 percent.

Earlier studies found both omega3 fatty acids and defibrillators prevent sudden cardiac deaths, but the current study was the first to be able to compare both approaches for their efficacy in preventing sudden cardiac death rates across a population, researchers say.

The computer-simulation used in the study allowed researchers to consider data on patient health and treatments with unrealistic conditions such as 100 percent patient compliance with doctors´┐Ż prescriptions.

In the simulated population, raising the level of blood omega-3 fatty acid in individuals after a cardiac event such as a heart attack could save 58 lives a year where as only seven lives per year were saved by AEDs and 30 deaths per year prevented by implantable defibrillators under simulation conditions.

Three major types of omega 3 fatty acids can be found in foods and used by the body - alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA after ingested, is found in flaxseeds, canola (rapeseed) oil, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. EPA and DHA are found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and herring.

Source: Kottke, TE, et al. (2006) Preventing sudden death with n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids and defibrillators. Am J Prev Med 31(4), 2006.

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