Regular Intake of Fish Containing Omega-3 and Lower Cardiac Events Following Hospitalization

October 29, 2009


Long-Term Fish Consumption is Associated with Lower Risk of 30-Day Cardiovascular Disease Events in Survivors from an Acute Coronary Syndrome
Pounis et al., International J. Cardiology, 136: 344-346, 2009.
Department of Nutrition Science & Dietetetics, Harokopio, Athens, Greece


The present study was conducted to determine if the long-term consumption of fish containing DHA/EPA omega-3 fatty acids might possibly influence the short-term outcomes (prognosis) of patients who had experienced either a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or unstable angina (chest pain or discomfort occurring when the heart muscle is not receiving sufficient blood flow – often due to the rupturing of a plaque within the coronary artery). A total of 193 patients who had been hospitalized for an acute coronary syndrome (myocardial infarction or unstable angina) were followed during the subsequent 30 days and their cardiovascular disease event rate (subsequent myocardial infraction, unstable angina, or surgical intervention) was determined. For all patients, the 30-day cardiovascular disease (CVD) event rate was 23.1% with a death rate of 2.0%. During their hospitalization, all participants were interrogated about their frequency (times per week or month) of fish intake containing long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The analyses revealed an inverse relationship between higher consumptions of fish containing omega-3 fatty acids and the 30-day adverse outcomes. Those patients who had previously shown high weekly consumption of fish (greater than 7 portions or 840 grams/week) experienced an 83% decrease in the likelihood for a recurrent cardiovascular event within the 30-day period after their initial event and hospitalization. The authors concluded that higher regular consumptions of fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (at intakes great than 1.25 grams/day) can be protective against a recurrent CVD event in those hospitalized for an acute coronary syndrome.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

These results are of particular interest since they support a highly protective effect of regular and long-term fish and fish oil consumption containing omega-3 fatty acids as DHA/EPA in reducing the short-term frequency of adverse cardiovascular events in those hosipitalized for an acute coronary syndrome. Generally speaking, an average daily intake of DHA/EPA of 1.25 grams/day from fish sources would require the consumption of fatty fish on a very regular basis (approximately 7-8 fatty fish servings per week). The American Heart Association have advocated (Krauss et al., J. Nutr., 131:132-146 (2001)) that the daily intake of DHA/EPA (combined) should be targeted at 1.0 gm/day from fish and/or supplemental sources in those with coronary heart disease. It is noteworthy that such intakes are in the range of a considerable portion of the adult Japanese population.

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