Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death worldwide.1 In the United States, the age-adjusted mortality rate associated with CVD is 219.4 per 100,000 people. Associated results are the intake of more omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) .3-5

While most patients and doctors know what omega-3s are, it is common to group all omega-3s into one category. However, recent research – as well as thousands of other studies – suggests that marine-based omega-3s (EPA and DHA) have the strongest link between intake and cardiovascular risk reduction

Unfortunately, 80% of the world’s people do not get enough EPA and DHA omega-3s in their diets.3 This knowledge gap shows how important it is for clinicians to know the difference between omega-3s so that they can understand can advise their patients accordingly.

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The omega-3 research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings is the most comprehensive analysis yet of EPA and DHA dosing and their role in cardiovascular prevention, with a review of 40 clinical studies significantly reducing risk for:

  • Fatal Myocardial Infarction (MI) (35%)
  • WED (13%)
  • Coronary artery disease (CHD) events (10%)
  • CHD mortality (9%)

The researchers also found that cardiovascular benefits seem to increase with dosage. Adding an additional 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 5.8% and heart attacks by 9.0%. The study included doses ranging from 400 mg per day up to 5500 mg per day

“People should consider taking omega-3 supplements that help them achieve a total daily intake of 1,000 to 2,000 mg as a relatively inexpensive, highly effective way of improving heart health with low associated risks,” said Carl J. Lavie, MD, cardiologist at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, New Orleans, and co-author of the study

How much do patients need?

According to the The Mayo Clinic Proceedings study, as well as a recently published Harvard University study on omega-3 intake and cardiovascular benefits5, a daily omega-3 intake of more than 1000 mg would be an effective goal. However, since the average intake of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in the US is around 100 mg per day, every increase is an improvement.

One way to help patients meet intake goals is to have their omega-3 blood levels tested with a finger prick test. The desirable content of omega-3 fatty acids is around 8% .6 Doctors can advise patients according to their initial values.

To help patients get more EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, you have these

  • Increase the amount of oily fish in your diet.
  • Consider an omega-3 supplement. In addition to eating healthy fish, a daily omega-3 supplement helps keep the blood levels of EPA and DHA in the blood constant.
  • Add some omega-3 formulation foods to your diet, such as: B. DHA fortified milk and omega-3 eggs. While most foods fortified with EPA and / or DHA usually have a small amount per serving, every little bit helps

Robyn L. Kievit, FNP-BC, RDN, CSSD, CEDRD, worked as a nurse and nutritionist and is currently a nutritionist specializing in eating disorders, sports nutrition and basic care.

References

  1. World health organization. Cardiovascular disease. WHO website. Retrieved October 28, 2020. https://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/about_cvd/en/
  2. Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2020 Update: a report from the American Heart Association. Traffic. 2020; 141 (9): e139-e596.
  3. Stark KD, Van Elswyk ME, Higgins MR, Weatherford CA, Salem N. Global study of omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the bloodstream of healthy adults. Prog Lipid Res. 2016; 63: 132-152.
  4. Bernasconi AA, Wiest MM, Lavie CJ, Milani RV, Laukkanen JA. Effect of omega-3 dosing on cardiovascular outcomes: an updated meta-analysis and meta-regression of intervention studies. Mayo Clinic Proc. 2020. Published online on September 17, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2020.08.034.
  5. Hu Y, Hu FB, and Manson JE. Marine omega-3 supplementation and cardiovascular disease: and updated meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials including 127,477 participants. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019; 8 (19): e013543.
  6. National Health Institute. Omega-3 fatty acids. NIH website. Retrieved November 4, 2020. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/#ref

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