Heart Disease: A Role for Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements?

Heart disease kills more people in the developed world than any other single cause. In the US, heart disease accounts for roughly 50% of all deaths. Discovering ways to mitigate the risks of developing heart disease has been the goal of countless researchers around the world.

My intention in this article is to review the potential role of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in both the prevention and treatment of the most common forms of heart disease.

The following are known effects of supplementing omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) to human individuals:

  • Omega-3s positively affect your arteries by improving their elasticity, thereby decreasing peripheral resistance and improving circulation.
  • Omega-3s positively reduce your risk of getting heart disease by decreasing blood pressure. High blood pressure over time triggers injuries to the blood vessel walls triggering further inflammation, narrowing and ultimately blockages. Although it’s not known exactly how omega-3s lower blood pressure numerous studies have documented that they do, albeit, moderately.
  • Omega-3s decrease your blood’s tendency to clot too easily by interfering with platelet aggregation and by reducing triglycerides. Doses of just 2-4 grams of omega-3s reduces triglycerides by between 20-50%.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids have demonstrated to have a stabilizing effect on the heart’s electrical rhythm. Those on omega-3 fatty acids have less of a tendency to experience abnormal cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Omega-3s improve heart rate variability. Heart Rate Variability or HRV improves in those taking omega-3 supplements especially when the DHA content is higher. HRV is a measurement of the autonomic nervous system’s role on maintaining a normal electrical functioning.
  • The effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on heart rhythms are comparable to popular anti-arrhythmia medications.
  • On average omega-3 fatty acid supplements lower resting heart rate by about 2-4 beats per minute. This may not sound like much, but every little bit of decrease makes a significant difference in terms of cardiovascular events and sudden death.

Most studies that demonstrate positive benefits from additional omega-3 supplements used doses of 2-3 grams. This amount of omega-3 fatty acids can be met, taking Xtend-Life’s three Omega-3/DHA products.

It’s vital to know that heart disease is not simply an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. In other words, you need to do a number of things to lower your risk of developing heart disease.

For the dedicated, I cannot recommend highly enough the work of Dr. Dean Ornish. He has successfully demonstrated that you can successfully reverse heart disease by modifying the following lifestyle habits:

  1. Plant-based, low fat, whole food diet, with supplemental omega-3 fatty acids...
  2. Moderate exercise (3 times/week)...
  3. Stress management (meditation, group therapy)...

Heart disease is a disease of lifestyle and therein lies its prevention and ultimately its cure.

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