Omega 3 can reduce the risk of stroke by reducing the risk of Atrial Fibrillation

The role of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA in heart health has been established that some time, and the reason the American Heart Association tells us all to maintain a minimum level of intake of the Omega 3 fats.

More evidence is now emerging about the role of the Omega 3 fats in helping to prevent Atrial Fibrillation.

Atrial Fibrillation is a heart condition. It is often associated with chest discomfort including chest pain and palpitations, and is a form of cardiac arrhythmia, namely an irregular heartbeat.

Whilst Atrial Fibrillation may present no symptoms to the sufferer it has implications for their future health. For instance it can increase the risk of stroke in the presence of other risk factors like high blood pressure.

Atrial Fibrillation is quite common, and estimates are that it affects hundreds of millions of Americans and costs tens of $billions in health care costs. In particular its association with an increase in the risk of stroke is very serious. One of the major risk factors for Atrial Fibrillation is age, and as people pass the age of 40 their risk increases significantly, and this risk increases with advancing age.Omega 3 and Atrial Fibrillation

A study on Atrial Fibrillation, known as the “Framingham Heart Study“, observed that Atrial Fibrillation is now emerging as a major public health concern. That study examined the risks for developing Atrial Fibrillation, and concluded that the lifetime risk is one in 4 for men and women over the age of 40. That’s significant.

In a new study published in late 2011,  the role of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids in preventing or helping prevent Atrial Fibrillation was examined.

In the study over 3000 men and women above the age of 65, who were free of Atrial Fibrillation or heart failure, were studied over a period of 10 years. Part of the study included readings of their levels of the Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (together with DPA).

The conclusion of the study was that “In older adults, higher circulating total long-chain n-3 PUFA and DHA levels were associated with lower risk of incident AF.” (where long-chain n-3 PUFA means Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and AF means Atrial Fibrillation).

In fact it would appear from the study that more DHA alone had some effect on helping reduce the risk of Atrial Fibrillation.

And of course further studies are required to confirm the results and also to investigate whether or not increasing the amount of Omega 3 fats in the diet could be a form of primary prevention of Atrial Fibrillation.

This is an extremely important result given the number of people who suffer from this heart condition and the cost in both dollar terms and human terms of the condition. In many cases it can lead to death.

Good news indeed, the role of the Omega 3 fats in heart health continues to amaze.

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