Wednesday , March 29 2023

Fish-oil drugs protect heart health, say two studies


Two major studies published on Saturday offer evidence that fish oil derived drugs are effective in protecting people from fatal heart attacks, strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

Extensive research efforts carried out for many years have tested different formulations and quantities of Omega-3 fatty acids in two groups of people: one suffering from cardiovascular or diabetes disease and one representing the general population. Both studies have found that people who took the medication every day enjoyed protection against cardiac and circulatory problems compared to those who received a placebo.

At a glance at another supplement commonly consumed by Vitamin D, researchers have found no effect on heart disease, but have seen a link with the decline in cancer deaths over time.

The research was launched Saturday at the American Heart Association's 2018 scientific sessions in Chicago and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Approximately 43 million people in the United States take statins to lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol, and medicines are credited with reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But heart disease remains the main killer of the Americans. In recent years, a steady decline in deaths from heart disease has slowed down. Thus, researchers are looking for other methods of fighting cardiovascular disease beyond known protective factors such as changes in diet, exercise, and smoking habits.

One of the studies revealed on Saturday, called by the acronym REDUCE-IT, determined that people with cardiovascular disease already taking statins had fewer chances of serious heart problems when they were given two grams of Vasceda (e icosapent ethyl) twice a day.

The medicine is a purified version of a fish oil component that targets triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood. Increased triglycerides may result in hardening or thickening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and myocardial infarction. The people taking the medicine were compared to those who received a placebo. The study involved more than 8,000 people.

The drug is produced by Amarin Corp., which sponsored the research. In September, Amarin announced that the study has achieved its main goals.

Deepak L. Bhatt, chief executive of interventional cardiovascular programs at Brigham and Women of Boston, who led the study, said the results could change cardiological practice in the same way that statin introduction was made more than 30 years ago.

"Frankly, I have been doing clinical trials for a long time, and I have not been involved in a process that has such a great potential to improve the lives of tens of millions of people," Bhatt said.

In 2007, a large study in Japan determined that the same fish oil component used in the REDUCE-IT study showed the promise to protect against cardiovascular problems. But that research did not compare the substance with a placebo and was complicated by the large amount of fish in the typical Japanese diet.

The other study on fish oil released on Saturday, called VITAL, analyzed the effect of a different formulation of omega-3 fatty acids in a drug called Lovaza. The researchers followed nearly 26,000 people for an average of more than five years. The results suggested that people on whom the drug was given were 28% less likely to suffer heart attacks than those who received a placebo and 8% less likely to have a variety of cardiovascular events. The effect was even more pronounced among African Americans, but the lead researcher said the results needed further studies before they could be invoked.

People who ate fewer than 1.5 servings a week had a decrease in heart attacks when they increased Omega-3 consumption by taking drugs. The study did not find a decrease in stroke.

JoAnne Manson, head of the Preventive Medicine Division at Brigham and Women's Hospital, who led the study, said she "continues to support … the benefits of Omega-3 in heart health."

Manson called the results of "promising signals" about fish oil consumption, but said they are not convincing enough to force people to start taking drug or fish supplements. The study also showed that the medicine is safe enough that people who are already taking fish oil have no reason to stop, she said in an interview.

Study people received 840 milligrams of key fatty acids in fish oil every day, less than is found in typical salmon servings.

"We will encourage starting with more fish in the diet and having at least two servings a week," Manson said. An advantage to do this through diet. . . is that fish can replace red meat, saturated fat and processed foods. "

Lovaza is manufactured by GSK, but is available in generic form. The study was sponsored by the National Health Institute.

The VITAL study also looked at vitamin D, which is often recommended for improving bone health in older women and for the general health of others. He found that vitamin did not have any effect on heart attacks or strokes and did not affect the incidence of cancer.

But vitamin D consumption may play a role in reducing the number of deaths caused by cancer two or more years later, the study showed. Manson has suggested that vitamin D can help prevent cancer of metastasis or become more invasive. But he said the idea needed more research.

She said that people who are already taking modest amounts of vitamin D, especially at the advice of doctors, have no reason to stop. But she warned not to take huge doses of vitamin, such as 5,000 or 10,000 international units per day, unless a doctor recommends it because the safety of this practice is unknown.

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