Cardiovascular Health

Consumption of Alpha-Linolenic Acid Unrelated to Risk of Heart Failure in 3 Studies

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the one omega-3 fatty acid found in some plants—flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, soybean and canola oils, for example. Consumption of foods rich in ALA is associated with a modestly lower risk of overall heart disease, according to a recent statistical analysis of 13 studies, but if one looks at the ALA content in blood or red blood cells instead of diet, ALA is not related to the risk of heart disease. Unavoidable errors in estimating food intakes mean that studies relying on measurements in blood…

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Dietary Alpha-Linolenic Acid Not Related to Risk of Heart Failure in 3 Studies

Three recent papers have reported the results from observational studies on the incidence or risk of heart failure associated with fish consumption, dietary or tissue n-3 PUFAs. Each study was conducted in different populations (men, women or both) of varying mean ages. The findings were consistent in reporting a lower risk of heart failure with increased fish consumption, but relationships with dietary or circulating PUFAs were inconsistent. Heart failure is a major health problem in countries with high rates of cardiovascular disease and affects approximately 5.8 million people in the…

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Higher EPA + DHA and Low Mercury Linked to Lower Risk of Myocardial Infarction

Fish consumption or supplementation with long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) has frequently been associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Although not all studies and meta-analyses of the relevant scientific publications have agreed with this conclusion, many health organizations worldwide have recommended increased consumption of fish, especially fatty species, for the reduction of cardiovascular disease mortality. Nevertheless, fish consumption remains low in many countries where cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. One reason for low seafood intakes is concern about the methylmercury, the form…

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Differential Effects of Omega-3 PUFAs on Lipoprotein Profiles in Alaska Natives

Relationships between the pattern and size of circulating lipoproteins and cardiovascular disease have been extensively studied, with high concentrations of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) particles associated with higher and lower disease risk, respectively. Recently, the effectiveness of various interventions to raise HDL-cholesterol levels has been questioned as a result of disappointing trial results. Dietary intakes of different fatty acid classes, PUFAs and carbohydrates affect the amounts, size and distribution of lipoprotein particles and contribute to changes in the risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, high intakes of…

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More Mixed Findings on Omega-3s and Risk of Incident Atrial Fibrillation

Data on the relationship between long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation are notoriously inconsistent. Whether examining the risk of incident atrial fibrillation in individuals with no history of the condition, risk following coronary surgery or the odds of recurrent atrial fibrillation, reports vary from reduced risk to no association or, in a rare instance, an adverse association. Finding ways to lower the risk of atrial fibrillation is important because the condition is associated with an increased risk of stroke, myocardial infarction ventricular arrhythmia and…

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Neither Folate Nor Long-Chain Omega-3s Affect Depressive Symptoms in Heart Patients

Depressive symptoms and anxiety are common occurrences among patients with coronary heart disease. These conditions adversely affect the prognosis of heart disease patients and increase the risk of cognitive decline. For example, one study reported that the risk of major adverse cardiac events over 2 years in men with acute coronary syndrome was increased in the presence of depressive illness and elevated C-reactive protein. A recent analysis of the prevalence of depressive symptoms in patients from 22 countries who were hospitalized for coronary heart disease reported a prevalence in men…

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Omega-3s and Sex Affect Lipoprotein Concentrations and Sizes in Alaska Natives

One of the most commonly used assessments of a person’s risk of heart disease is the profile of lipoproteins in the blood. These include low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), the infamous “bad” cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) or “good” cholesterol; triglycerides or blood fats and total cholesterol. A favorable distribution of these lipoproteins and normal values for them are associated with a significantly lower risk of heart disease. These measures are some of the many factors that contribute to the risk of heart disease. As with many things, size matters. LDL…

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No Escape from Inconsistencies about Omega-3s and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

Fats of Life has previously reported studies on the relationship between long-chain or seafood omega-3 fatty acids and the risk of atrial fibrillation, a potentially dangerous, rapid quivering of the upper chambers of the heart. In this condition, the electrical signals in the heart’s upper chambers become disordered and rapid, which compromises the lower chambers’ ability to pump blood effectively. What stands out from all the studies on omega-3s and atrial fibrillation is the utter lack of consistency in the findings. The majority of studies have reported either no association…

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Seafood Omega-3 Supplementation Without Effect in Depressive Heart Patients

There have been several encouraging studies reporting improved symptoms in depressive illness among those who consumed long-chain (seafood) omega-3s. Other research has observed lower levels of these fatty acids in patients with heart disease and/or depressive illness. The benefits to heart health of increased consumption of these fatty acids, especially among survivors of a heart attack, suggest that higher intakes of these substances might improve both conditions in heart patients who develop depressive symptoms. Thus, increasing the consumption of seafood omega-3s in heart patients with depressive illness appears an obvious…

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Women with High Intakes of Long-Chain Omega-3s May Have Fewer Strokes

There is considerable evidence, although some of it is inconsistent, that the consumption of fish or the long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) they contain is associated with a lower risk of stroke in women. However, as one research group understated it, “the relationship between fish consumption and stroke risk is not straightforward.” These researchers reported that high consumption of salted fish was associated with a 2-fold greater risk of intracerebral hemorrhage compared with eating no salted fish. The high sodium intake of salted-fish-eaters probably contributed more to the stroke risk…

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