Omega-3 Intake Linked to Lower Risk of Death and Heart Disease

Omega 3 and Cardiovascular HealthIn a new finding from the Framingham Heart Study, Omega-3 levels, not total cholesterol, were closely linked to overall risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death.

Findings from the 2,500 individuals participating in the Offspring cohort of the Framingham Heart Study, found that participants Omega-3 index had a significant association with 4 out of the 5 major outcomes, CHD (coronary heart disease) CVD, total mortality, and CVD mortality.

The Omega-3 index used for these findings is the total of EPA and DHA content of red blood cell (RBC) membranes.  Omega-3 index values over 8% were considered as low risk or optimal, while index values between 4% – 8% were categorized as intermediate risk and values below 4% were considered to be high risk participants.

The main outcome of the finding identified the risk of death to be about 34% lower in participants whose Omega-3 index was in the highest quintile compared to participants whose Omega-3 index was in the lowest quintile.  Additionally it was determined that a participants Omega-3 index was a better predictor of death risk as well as some measures of CVD disease, than a participants total cholesterol levels.

The study participants who had an average age of 66 had no CVD at the beginning of the study.  Data on 18 demographic and CVD risk factors were assessed at baseline and measurements of RBC EPA and DHA and total cholesterol were taken at the onset.  Follow ups on the study participants over a period of 7 years were performed.  Incidence of death (total, CVD related, cancer and other), CVD, CHD, and stroke were recorded.  These outcomes were then correlated against the participants Omega-3 index and total cholesterol.

Although the study was observational in nature, researchers did estimate that 1300 mg /day of EPA+DHA would be needed to push a participants Omega-3 index from the lowest to the highest quintile.    Further studies are needed.



Does Iron Supplementation Promise Lower Heart Attack Risk?

Iron and HeartA new study identifies low levels of iron as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death worldwide and researchers look at iron supplementation as a low cost method for reducing the risk of heart disease.

Genomic data from over 48,000 people was used in this study.  Genetic variations were used as a way to determine a person’s iron level and its link to their cardiovascular disease risk (CVD).  Researchers looked at a trio of points located in the genome (the genetic material of an organism) where a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), an alteration in the DNA, can increase or decrease the iron status of a person. These SNPs were identified as rs1800562 and rs1799945 in the HFE gene and rs855791 in the TMPRSS6.  When these SNPs were reviewed researchers found those participants with the SNPs for higher iron status had reduced risks for coronary artery disease (CAD).

Current research has shown mixed results regarding iron and cardiovascular disease.  High iron stores have also been associated with increased risks factors for CVD, like Type 2 Diabetes.  Observational studies have also shown a protective effect of increased iron levels on CAD as wells as an increased death rate in patients with iron deficiency and heart failure.

This study used the Mendelian randomization technique, which has been proven effective in accounting for reverse causation, lifestyle factors or environmental factors.  The World Health Organization estimates approximately 2 billion people worldwide do not get enough iron from their diet, which can lead to anemia, shortness of breath, increased risk of infections, heart palpitations, and may cause tiredness.