Heart Trouble With Fish Oil
Fish oil may help counter air
pollution-linked changes in heart function,
a new study suggests.
Pollution exposure can affect heart rate variability,
a measure of the autonomic nervous system's
regulation of the heart. Heart rate variability
is an independent risk factor for cardiac arrhythmias,
heart attack and sudden death.
But a study in the December issue of the American
Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
has found that a daily two-gram fish oil supplement
prevented a decline in heart rate variability
in 26 elderly people, aged 81 to 83.
The study participants, all residents of a
Mexico City nursing home, took the fish oil
supplements for six months. A control group
of 24 nursing home residents took soy oil supplements.
"In this randomized, controlled trial, fish
oil supplementation prevented the reduction
in heart rate variability associated with the
same-day exposure to indoor particulate matter,"
researcher Dr. Fernando Holguin of the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
said in a prepared statement.
"In contrast, soy oil, our comparison supplementation
of plant-derived polyunsaturated fatty acids,
was associated with a marginal, nonsignificant
protection from the effects of particulate matter
on heart rate variability," Holguin said.
He and his colleagues said larger studies are
needed to confirm their results.
"Fish oil as a source of omega-3 polyunsaturated
fatty acids could be considered as a potential
form of preventive measure to reduce the risk
of arrhythmia and sudden death in elderly subjects
exposed to ambient air pollution," Holguin said.