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Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2005 Sep;7(5):375-80.

Extending the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 Fatty acids.

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Lipid and Diabetes Research Center, Mid America Heart Institute, Saint Luke's Health System, Kansas City, MO 64111, USA.


The cardiovascular benefits of omega (n)-3 fatty acids (FA) become clearer with each passing year. Although useful in large doses for lowering serum triglyceride levels, the primary benefits are likely to arise from smaller, nutritional intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Doses of less than 1 g/d appear to reduce risk for fatal coronary heart disease events, perhaps by stabilizing the myocardium and reducing risk for fatal arrhythmias. New evidence points to a possible benefit on atrial fibrillation, particularly in the immediate post-cardiac surgery setting. Studies in women with coronary heart disease now suggest that plaque progression may be slowed by increased intakes of oily fish, even in women with diabetes. The relative importance of the n-6 FA linoleic acid (LA), the short-chain n-3 FA alpha linolenic acid (ALA), and the long-chain n-3 FAs EPA and DHA is becoming clearer. If intakes of the latter are adequate (perhaps over 250 mg/d), then there appears to be little need to consume more ALA or less LA.

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