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Omega 3 sources of fish and sees on a table

Omega-3 fatty acids and heart health go hand in hand. For many years American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended eating at least two servings of fish each week, preferably fatty fish such as salmon, herring and albacore tuna each week. And the World Health Organization suggests adults regularly consume fish (1-2 servings per week) and that each serving should provide 200-500 mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docosahexaenoic) omega-3 fatty acids.

Americans consistently struggle to obtain this amount through diet alone, which is where supplements comes into play.

Cooper Clinic recommends daily supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, in the triglyceride form, for the majority of patients.

Omega-3 and Heart Health: In Eskimos?

The cardiovascular benefit of omega-3 and heart health is not a new discovery. Jørn Dyerberg, MD, DMSc, found the connection while he and his team worked in Greenland in the early 1970s.

They wanted to learn how Eskimos living in Greenland could eat a high-fat diet—of mostly fish and seal—and still have one of the lowest death rates from heart disease in the world. Through research, they found the answer—omega-3.

They published their work in The Lancet and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They learned omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure, resting heart rate, the risk of arrhythmia, sudden death and triglycerides.

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Today more than 22,000 published studies show the benefits of omega-3 and heart health. Omega-3 fats also improve the HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio and reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Omega-3 Lowers Triglycerides

Triglycerides exist in the blood as a lipid, a type of fat. A certain amount of triglycerides benefit health as the body uses them for energy. However, too many triglycerides can cause artery damage and raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

High triglyceride levels are a link to poor heart health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. A doctor will likely check for high triglycerides as part of a cholesterol test. This blood test will reveal if one has high triglyceride levels, known as hypertriglyceridemia.

A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 milligrams per deciliter. Multiple studies have shown omega-3 and heart health benefits from both diet and supplements can help reduce levels potentially 20 to 50 percent.

American Heart Association states those with high triglycerides need higher amounts of omega-3. If you have high triglycerides, talk to your doctor about what amount is best for you and whether prescription medication is more appropriate.

To learn more about triglycerides and treatment options, read this American Heart Association publication.

Omega-3 Lowers Blood Pressure

Studies show eating omega-3 in fish oil can benefit health by reducing high blood pressure. Even more, the impact on overall heart health is significant.

High blood pressure (hypertension) can remain symptom-free for many years in some patients.  However, the damage to blood vessels and the heart will persist even if the condition is left undetected.

This makes hypertension a top risk factor for heart problems including stroke and heart attack.

A review of clinical research further suggests a link in omega-3 and a general lowering of blood pressure.  Systolic blood pressure dropped by 2.5 to 5.5 mmHg while diastolic blood pressure dropped by 1.5 to 3.5 mmHg. The damage to the body is greater the longer high blood pressure is uncontrolled.

Omega-3 Improves Mortality Rates for some conditions of Heart Disease

In a 2017 publication by the AHA, after a review of multiple randomized controlled trials they concluded:

Omega-3 fish oil supplements can assist with secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD) and sudden cardiac death in patients with prevalent CHD and in patients with heart failure.

This is an update from their 2002 recommendation where they stated:

Additional studies are needed to confirm and further define the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplements for both primary and secondary prevention.

In the VITAL (Vitamin D and Omega-3) study 25,000 people age 50 were followed for over five years. In the study participants who ate fewer than 1 1/2 servings (approximately 4 1/2 – 6 ounces) of fish per week and were given 1 gram (1,000 mg) per day of prescription fish oil had the risk of cardiovascular events reduced by 19 percent.

Consult with a physician for which omega-3 treatments are best for individual patients.  If omega-3 is an acceptable option, Cooper Complete offers an Advanced Omega-3 Fatty Acids supplement containing 1,400 mg of fish oil (720 mg EPA, 480 mg DHA, and 200 mg other omega-3 fatty acids) in a triglyceride form for superior absorption.

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