In a prospective clinical study, the consumption of fish oil supplements had the effect of reducing the electrical irritability of the heart in people with heart rhythm disturbances.
"This stabilising effect may be one way in which fish oil reduces mortality in patients with coronary artery disease," Dr Glenn D. Young from Royal Adelaide Hospital, Australia told Reuters Health.
"This study supports the more wide spread use of fish oil and/or fish consumption in coronary artery disease patients," Young said.
Several studies have reported a decrease in risk of sudden cardiac death or cardiac arrest with increased consumption of fish or fish oils, fuelling the idea that fish oil may have heart-rhythm stabilizing, or 'anti-arrhythmic' properties. The study by Young and colleagues supports this line of thinking.
How the study was done
They studied 26 patients suffering from a rapid abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular tachycardia who were having a cardiac defibrillator implanted.
Twelve patients consumed 3g of fish oil daily for six weeks and 14 did not. At an initial electrophysiologic study, the researchers were able to induce ventricular tachycardia through programmed extra stimuli in all 26 patients.
At a repeat electrophysiologic study, 42 percent of the fish oil group had no inducible ventricular tachycardia compared with just seven percent of the control group.
Additionally, 42 percent of the fish oil group required more aggressive stimulation to induce ventricular tachycardia, compared with 36 percent of the control group.
This research, conclude Young and colleagues, 'strongly' supports the premise that fish and fish oils have heart-rhythm stabilizing effects, but their role in the management of patients with heart rhythm abnormalities 'remains to be established'. – (Reuters Health)
Fish oil no heart help
Statins plus fish for heart