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Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids decrease the risk of deadly rhythm disturbances in heart attack survivors

May 06, 2009

A ventricular ectopic beat (VET) is an extra heartbeat originating in the lower chamber of the heart. This beat, also called a premature ventricular contraction, is an extra beat that occurs before the beat triggered by the heart's normal function. 

Ventricular ectopic beats are common and often do not indicate a problem in people without heart disease. However, if a person has aortic stenosis, heart failure, or suffered from a previous heart attack, a ventricular ectopic beat can trigger ventricular tachycardia (an abnormally rapid beat of the lower heart chamber) and fibrillation (rapid, irregular, and unsynchronized contraction of the muscle fibers of the heart), which can lead to sudden death.

In this newly published study researchers from Dike University in Durham, North Carolina, examined the relationship between eating fish and the risk of VET in 260 patients who had suffered with an acute myocardial infarct (sudden, dangerous heart attack). The intake of fish oils or vegetarian (flaxseed type) omega 3 fatty acids decreased the risk of VET. The study is published in the May 1st, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.