The Effect of Omega 3s on Heart Disease

Plant-based_and_animal_sources_of_Omega-3_acids_ Fish oil supplementation has been shown to decrease TNF-alpha and IL-6. Image: AlexPro9500
In our previous post about how heart attacks work we discussed the basic mechanism by which plaques can build up in the arteries of the heart. The plaque and the cells, which initially respond to the damaged blood vessels release chemicals to draw more immune cells to the site to contain the injury. This process is known as inflammation and some of the chemicals that mediate it are IL-6, IL-8, TNF-alpha and C reactive protein. High levels of these chemicals suggest some kind of inflammation in the body.

Omega 3 fatty acids (sometimes known either as fish oil or DHA/EPA) have been studied extensively and have shown some promise in decreasing some of these inflammatory markers. Specifically, fish oil supplementation has been shown to decrease TNF-alpha and IL-6. However, the jury is still out on whether fish oils can actually lead to a reduction in heart disease and it is likely that a healthy diet and exercise are more beneficial.
Physicians can prescribe fish oils, but they are FDA-approved for lowering blood triglyceride levels, making them an option for someone with high triglycerides. The regular dosage is about one gram daily but contact your primary care physician for more details and make sure your supplementation contains a high ratio of the long chain fatty acids DHA and EPA.

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is a second year resident in Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health and awareness with her passion for health, fitness and beauty. In her spare time, enjoys fashion, kayaking on West Meadow Beach, and creating westernized-Asian recipes.