Complementary medicine update

Omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular protection

Peter McLennan, Alice J Owen

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Abstract

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oils offer a practical complementary strategy for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Fish should be part of a healthy diet low in saturated fats for everybody, with additional administration of omega-3 fatty acid supplements for specific groups of patients.

Article Extract

The cardioprotective action of omega-3 fatty acids was first noted in the Inuit [(formerly known as Eskimos)] in Greenland, in whom a low incidence of heart disease was associated with a high intake of seafood. Numerous studies since have confirmed this finding, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids in fish and fish oils reduce the risk of illness and death from heart disease. Specific effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system have been identified that help to explain how these fatty acids might act, thereby adding confidence to their use in evidence based practice.

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