- You have just left the hospital.
- You have just left the hospital where a loved one lies in a hospital bed after suffering his third heart attack. The first two were minor, but this one, this one almost took him away from you.
- But, you have left the hospital knowing that he is safe for the moment.
The doctors were able to stabilize him, and now they have started him on a drug therapy that they swear is the best treatment for chronic heart failure. Medical science at it’s very best.
You leave the hospital knowing that the statin drugs coursing through his system give him the very best chance of survival. Right?
According to these studies, “Omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation improves morbidity and mortality in symptomatic heart-failure patients, while statins failed to have any beneficial effect in the same group of patients.”
- Statins failed to have any beneficial effect on the heart-failure patients, while…
So What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a group of fats found in cold water oily fish (sardines, salmon, herring), flax seed, krill, some algae and most recently being added in supplement form to numerous consumer products such as eggs, orange juice and bread.
What Can Omega-3s Do For Me?
When we discuss Omega-3s, we are usually discussing two specific Omega-3s:
On September 8, 2004, the FDA gave “qualified health claim” status to EPA and DHA, stating that “supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease“.
So, according to the FDA, Omega-3s may help you avoid a heart attack.
Let’s see what some others have to say about Omega-3s:
Are Omega-3s Better than Statins?
I am not sure that we should be looking at this question as an either / or proposition, but the results of this latest study show that:
- After 3.9 years of follow-up, treatment with the omega-3 fatty acids reduced the risk of mortality by 9% and mortality and admission to the hospital for cardiovascular causes by 8%
- After 3.9 years, the patients being treated with statins (rosuvastatin 10 mg) saw no reduction in the risk of morbidity or admission to hospital. On the good side, there was a 27% decrease in LDL cholesterol after 3 years. This decrease, however, didn’t keep people out of the hospital.
At the end of the day, the Omega-3s did a better job than the statins. Period.
So what does medical science have to say about these test results?
The Chair of the study, Dr. Luigi Tavazzi said ‘the advantage of Omega-3s is that they appear to have a beneficial effect on the mechanisms leading to the progression of heart failure.
Translation: They keep you from suffering heart failure.
Although the exact reasons are unknown, omega-3 fatty acids could possibly exert favorable effects on inflammatory processes, such as reductions in endothelial activation and cytokine production, as well as influence platelet aggregation, blood pressure, heart rate, ventricular function, and autonomic tone.
Translation: They are anti-inflammatory.
Another researcher, Dr. Gregg Fonarow said that while “questions remain about the mechanism of action, optimum dosing, and formulation, supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids should join the short list of evidence-based life-prolonging therapies for heart failure.”
In regards to the performance of the statin drug rosuvastatin, researcher Dr. Poole-Wilson said that “this study is likely to generate disappointment among clinicians, as the results of the study, in light of observational and meta-analyses data, were expected to be positive.
When the trial was designed, some even expressed concern that it was unethical to randomize heart-failure patients to placebo because they were so confident of the benefit of statin therapy in this patient population.
The results, he said, ultimately should humble researchers, especially as they serve as reminder that medical decisions should be guided “science, and not strongly held opinion.”
In terms of why the study failed to show a beneficial effect on clinical outcomes, the researchers note that treatment with rosuvastatin reduced LDL cholesterol as well as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.
“These effects might no longer affect the progression of coronary artery disease in patients with ischemic heart failure, perhaps because their effect is attenuated by a biological milieu not favoring the progression of coronary artery disease”.
Translating this into something resembling English, Dr. Fonarow said “that once heart failure is established, statins may not allow patients to escape the underlying heart-disease process”.
According to this pair of studies, Omega-3 Fatty Acids are better than Statins at keeping your heart beating.