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Pathophysiology. 2007 Oct;14(2):127-32. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

n-3 PUFAs-From dietary supplements to medicines.

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Centre of Preventive and Sports Medicine L. Pasteur Hospital and P.J. Safarik University, Trieda SNP 1, 041 90 Kosice, Slovakia.


Although there has been a great progress in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the mortality of patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) still remains high. One of the most important underlying causes explaining this phenomenon is the sudden cardiac death. Nearly half of all cardiovascular deaths in the USA each year is attributed to this unpredictable and unexpected complication of AMI. Hence, there is an urgent medical need for a targeted therapy to reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death. Since 1980 there have been several epidemiological and other studies concerning the benefits of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) in cardiovascular health and prevention. Results from one of the largest studies, GISSI Prevenzione Trial show that adding the n-3 PUFAs to standard therapy of patients who survived AMI reduces sudden cardiac death (44% risk reduction, p=0.0006). In addition, significant decline in all-cause cardiovascular mortality (21% risk reduction, p=0.0064) further emphasizes the role of n-3 PUFA in cardiovascular prevention. To date, beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA are attributed to their antiarrhythmic, lipid lowering, antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties. To conclude, EPA and DHA improve the prognosis of cardiovascular patients in the secondary prevention of sudden cardiac death without any documented side effects.

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