Regular Consumption Of Foods Rich In Omega-3s, Including Walnuts And Fish, Can Reduce Risk Of Death Three Years After Suffering A Heart Attack

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Regular Consumption Of Foods Rich In Omega-3s, Including Walnuts And Fish, Can Reduce Risk Of Death Three Years After Suffering A Heart Attack

New Delhi, October 30, 2020–A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that regular consumption of foods rich in omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in marine foods like fatty fish, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant foods like walnuts, was associated with improved outcomes in individuals who suffered a heart attack, including decreased risk of death. Additionally, the consumption of both ALA and EPA provided the greatest benefit, suggesting a synergistic effect and unique protective qualities when both types of omega-3 are consumed.

The observational study, supported by the California Walnut Commission and reinforced by an editorial in the same publication entitled “A Revolution in Omega-3 Fatty Acid Research,”included 944 participants who experienced a very serious heart attack in which one of the heart’s major arteries was blocked. Clinicians refer to this as a ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), but consumers may be more familiar with the term “widow-maker” heart attack.

A lead researcher in the study, Dr. Aleix Sala-Vila, Research Associate at IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) and Barcelona βeta Brain Research Center, explains, “Heart attacks are still very common, and aside from treatments to keep the patient alive, researchers have been exploring approaches to secure the quality of life of the patient after the heart attack. What is novel about this research is that it shows that ALA and EPA appear to be partners in improving the long-term outcomes of heart attack sufferers. Consuming both marine and plant-based omega-3s, from foods like salmon, a walnut, and flaxseed, seems to offer the greatest protection.”

The patients in this study, whose mean age was 61 and were made up of 78% men, had their blood taken during hospital admission. The researchers then determined the level of omega-3s in their blood,a reliable way to establish the intake of omega-3s during the weeks leading up to the heart attack. Next, they explored whether those with higher blood levels of omega-3s at the time of the heart attack were at decreased risk of suffering complications during a three-year follow-up period.

Specifically, the researchers found that those who showed higher blood levels of ALA were at decreased risk of three-year all-cause mortality. Also, those with higher levels of EPA were at decreased risk of death or needing hospital readmission for cardiovascular reasons.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is the leading cause of mortality in India. This epidemiological transition is largely because of the increase in the prevalence of CVDs and CVD risk factors in India. In 2016, the estimated prevalence of CVDs in India was estimated to be 54.5 million. One in 4 deaths in India are now because of CVDs with ischemic heart disease and stroke responsible for >80% of this burden. These diseases tend to affect patients in the most productive years of their lives and result in catastrophic social and economic consequences.

Commenting on the outcomes, Padmashri Dr. Mohsin Wali, Eminent Cardiologist said, “Walnuts have long been recognized as a heart-healthy food1 firstly backed by more than thirty years of research showing positive outcomes related to cardiovascular health such as cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, endothelial function and plaque formation. Walnuts are also the only tree nut with an excellent source of plant omega-3 ALA, providing 2.5 grams per 28 grams. In order to live a healthy life, one must make changes in the diet, by pledging to eat fruits and vegetables at every meal and choose snacks and recipes with heart-healthy ingredients such as walnuts. Adding 28 grams or a handful to the daily diet regime is a critical component for a healthy happy heart.”

While these results are encouraging, they do not prove cause and effect. Additional research is needed to determine whether EPA and ALA intake specifically contributed to the outcomes, or if other factors like socio-economic status, education, and pharmacologic treatments also had an effect.Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, another omega-3 supplied by fatty fish) was not part of this study.

TejGujarati
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