A meta-analysis of 20 randomized trials of nearly 70,000 patients published in the Sept. 12 issue of JAMA found omega-3 supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause death, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke.
Keeping People With Healthy Hearts Free Of Heart Disease
Based on scientific evidence the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database of the US rates Omega-3 as likely effective for keeping people with healthy hearts free of heart disease.
Many of the studies in the JAMA review were on people who had a prior heart attack, stroke or other form of heart and artery disease and so might not apply to maintaining health.
Whether or not omega-3 fatty acids will help to prevent heart attack and related diseases, Robert H. Shmerling of the Harvard Medical School suggests other steps you can take to prevent heart disease. For example:
- Get your blood pressure checked. If it's consistently high, lower it with diet and exercise. If necessary, you also can take medicines.
- Control your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, work with your doctors to keep your blood sugar levels in a good range. This may require medicines as well as changes to your diet and regular exercise.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke now, set a date to quit. Ask your doctor for help if you are unable to quit on your own. Avoid secondhand smoke as well.
- Control your cholesterol. This means keeping your total and LDL cholesterol levels low and your HDL cholesterol level high. Choose a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats.
- Lose excess weight and exercise regularly.
These measures are even more important if you have a personal or family history of heart and artery disease (such as a heart attack or stroke). Your doctor also may recommend other treatments, including low-dose aspirin and a drug called a beta-blocker.