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Study Shows Omega-3s May be Better than Cholesterol Lowering Drug for Patients with Heart Failure

Italian researchers recently found that a daily supplement of omega 3 fatty acids is more effective than a popular cholesterol lowering drug at reducing mortality rates among patients with heart failure.

The researchers, lead by Professor Luigi Tavazzi and Professor Gianni Tognoni, recruited 6,975 patients with chronic heart failure from 326 cardiology and 31 internal medicine centers across Italy. Participants were split evenly into two groups and randomly assigned to receive either a daily omega-3 supplement (1,000mg) or a placebo, and then followed for an average of four years.

At the end of the study, 955 deaths from all causes were documented in the omega-3 group while 1014 deaths were recorded in the placebo group, showing a 9% decrease in mortality. There was also an 8% decrease in hospital admittance for the group given the omega-3 supplement. The results are published in the September issue of the medical journal The Lancet.

In a parallel study, the same Italian researchers recruited about 4,500 participants and split them into two groups. One group received the cholesterol lowering drug Crestor® while the other received a placebo. After tracking the participants for an average of four years doctors found little difference in heart failure rates between the two groups.

When comparing the results of both studies against each other, researchers concluded that fish oil was more effective at lowering risk for heart failure than the popular cholesterol drug.

These findings add support to a growing body of research which indicates that popular cholesterol lowering drugs known as statins do not reduce the risk of cardiac events, even if they do reduce cholesterol.

Earlier this year the results of a study on another popular drug Vytorin® were released. It found that while the drug did reduce cholesterol levels it did not reduce artery plaque or thickness, both of which are significant risk factors for cardiac events.

These results seem to bolster support for the use of omega-3s in heart health and could provide hope for those suffering from or at high risk for heart problems. In addition to heart health benefits, omega-3s have also been linked to improved cognitive function, decrease cancer risk, lower risk of age-related macular degeneration and may lead to better moods.
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