Both Fish and Fish Oil Capsules Prevent Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Arrhythmias)

September 15, 2004

Eating fatty fish (cod, tuna, salmon), and/or taking fish oil supplements reduce the risk of developing an arrhythmia according to two new studies. Electrical signals control the proper heart rhythm. If the electrical signal is disrupted you develop an arrhythmia. Severe types of arrhythmias can cause a heart attack, a stroke or sudden cardiac death. In the first study of 65 patients with arrhythmias, one gram of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil capsules or placebo was supplemented for 6 months. They were monitored for an additional six-month period. The four types of arrhythmias monitored all decreased in the fish oil supplemented patients. The arrhythmias were fewer and milder. Atrial premature complexes decreased by 46.9%, ventricular premature complexes decreased by 67.8%, couplets decreased 71.8%, and triplets decreased 100%. Six months after stopping the fish oil capsules the improvements were reversed and all EKGs were back similar to the beginning of the study. Placebo had no effect on arrhythmias. In the second study 4,815 people over the age of 65 were monitored for atrial fibrillation. They were followed for an average of 12 years with EKGs and annual physicals. Eating fish one to three times per month decreased the risk of atrial fibrillation by 24% compared to non-fish eaters. Eating fish one to four times a week decreased the risk by 30%, and five or more servings per week decreased risk by 35%. Eating fried fish and low quality fish sandwiches actually increased the risk. The studies are published in the July 19th issue of Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, and the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids, September 2004.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

There is a library of evidence proving that eating fatty fish or supplementing with fish oil capsules can reduce the risk of a heart attack (by 50% in one study), or decrease the risk of suffering sudden-heart related death. Fish oils reduce the rate of hardening of the arteries. Fish oils help lower elevated fibrinogen and triglyceride levels that can cause a dangerous blood clot. They help prevent suffering a second heart attack or stroke or dying of one, and offer numerous other cardiovascular benefits. Recent studies show that fish oils decrease pressure on the heart and blood vessels and help normalize blood pressure. When we discuss fish oils we are referring to the omega-3 fatty acid content of the skin of coldwater fatty fish supplying EPA and DHA, we are not referring to Cod Liver oil, which is a source of preformed vitamin A (which can often be dangerous) and vitamin D (which is amazingly protective). Other nutrients for arrhythmias include Magnesium, Taurine, GliSODin, L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, Astragalus, and if congestive heart failure or high blood pressure is involved - Hawthorn Leaf extract.

Resveratrol Inhibits the HIV-1 Virus

Researchers at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland have previously reported that the nutrient Resveratrol has potent synergistic inhibitory activity against the AIDS virus, HIV-1. When added to didanosine, a drug that helps prevent the spread of the AIDS virus to uninfected cells, Resveratrol greatly improved the ability of the drug to block worsening infection. The two isomers that Resveratrol changes into in the blood stream lacked this effect. The study is published in the October 2004 issue of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.PH.

Many plant constituents referred to as phytochemicals are transformed into a number of different structures by normal digestion, metabolism, and enzymatic activity. An example of this is the wonderfully protective Indole-3-Carbinol found in cabbage vegetables. Indole-3-Carbinol itself has direct activity and many of the structural analogs it is transformed into during digestion and by the liver also have activity. This is why I stand firm in insisting people try the original plant ingredient and not just one of its metabolites - otherwise they miss out on a great deal of protective activity. Indole-3-Carbinol has myriad health benefits, by choosing to just take DIM, one of its metabolites you will miss out on many of its protective activities.