Fish Oils decrease the risk of developing fatal ventricular arrhythmias when there is a lack of blood flow to the heart

July 03, 2008

     Scientists at the Department of Medicine, Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger, Norway and the Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway state Fish Oils save lives. They note that animal studies demonstrate evidence of an anti-arrhythmic effect of marine n-3 fatty acids (FAs). In humans the same mechanism may explain the observed reduction in sudden cardiac death (SCD) associated with intake of fish.     However, do fish oils prevent death during the blockage of blood flow to the heart phase of a heart attack and prevent the onset of deadly ventricular arrhythmias.

     The researchers measured the level of EPA and DHA, the fats from fish oils, in the red blood cells of 460 patients hospitalized due to acute coronary syndrome (ACS). ACS is the occurrence of severe chest pain due to a lack of blood flow to the heart. The umbrella term ACS can include heart attacks, coronary heart disease and unstable angina. Once the level of EPA and DHA were documented they were compared to the level of that patients total FAs; this is called the Omega-3 Index.    

     The Omega-3 Index of patients who developed ventricular fibrillation (VF) after their first heart attack was compared to the level of patients who had not developed VF even after 30 days post heart attack. Those who suffered from dangerous VF had an index of 4.88% while those free of VF had an index of 6.08%. The protection offered by Fish Oils was powerful; for every 1% increase in the Omega-3 Index there was a 48% reduction in the risk of life threatening VF.  The study is published in the June 13th, 2008 issue of the journal Resuscitation.