~ 70 Controlled Clinical Studies Say Fish Oil Reduces Blood Pressure

~ 70 Controlled Clinical Studies Say Fish Oil Reduces Blood Pressure
By Michael A. Smith MD, LE Blog

Based on the following research: Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (American Journal of Hypertension)

There are 17 known heart disease risk factors, with high blood pressure ranking at the top of the list. The silent killer really is a killer.

Elevation in blood pressure can eventually cause complete blockage of an artery by initiating endothelium damage — that’s damage to the inside lining of an artery.

A damaged endothelium is the first step in developing unstable arterial plaques - the kind of plaques that are prone to rupture. Ruptured plaques cause clots to form within the lumen of the artery and the result is complete blockage.

This is why maintaining healthy blood pressure is so important.

Fish Oil’s Omega-3 Fats Reduce Blood Pressure

Researchers analyzed 70 randomized, controlled clinical studies comparing an average daily dose of 3.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA – to placebo. The source of the omega-3 fats was fish oil soft gels in a majority of the studies. Other omega-3 sources included dietary intake of fish and plant-based omega-3 products.

When analyzing total omega-3 intake from all sources (diet plus supplements), study participants with untreated high blood pressure had an average reduction in systolic pressure (the top number) of 4.51 mmHg and 3.05 mmHg reduction for diastolic pressure (the bottom number).

The average reduction in blood pressure for all study participants, with or without high blood pressure and from all sources, was 1.52 mmHg for systolic pressure and 0.99 mmHg for diastolic pressure.

When the analysis was restricted omega-3 supplements alone, systolic blood pressure was lowered by an average of 1.75 mmHg and diastolic by 1.11 mmHg. Diastolic blood pressure was found to be significantly reduced when the dosage of EPA/DHA exceeded two grams per day.

Omega-3 Fats as Good as Other Lifestyle Interventions

The results demonstrate that omega-3 fatty acids, from a variety of dietary and supplement sources, are as effective as other lifestyle-related interventions. The authors go on to say that omega-3 fats might even be more effective than increased physical activity and restricting sodium and alcohol for lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients.

The authors believe that omega-3 fat probably work in lowering blood pressure by improving systemic vascular resistance through changes in endothelial function.

As the authors of the study noted, “From a clinical and public health perspective, provision of EPA+DHA may lower blood pressure and ultimately reduce the incidence of associated chronic diseases.”

Article Conclusions from the Abstract

CONCLUSIONS Overall, available evidence from RCTs indicates that provision of EPA+DHA reduces systolic blood pressure, while provision of ≥2 grams reduces diastolic blood pressure.

Thirty-one percent of Americans are hypertensive, 30% are prehypertensive, and approximately 20% are hypertensive yet unaware of their status.1,2 Only 47% of those with hypertension are adequately controlled.1 Prior research shows that diet and lifestyle modifications, including physical activity, sodium reduction, and fish oil supplementation, can reduce blood pressure (BP), enhance antihypertensive drug efficacy, and decrease cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.3

The active ingredients in fish oil considered responsible for its antihypertensive effect are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5 n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6 n-3). Although previous meta-analyses of fish oil supplementation and BP have been published,4–7 none have been designed with inclusion criteria sufficient to examine the extensive scope of literature available in this active area of investigation. For example, the most recently published meta-analysis excluded trials that examined food sources of EPA and DHA (herein referred to as EPA+DHA) and those that were less than 8 weeks in duration.7 Therefore, our main objective was to update the state of the science by conducting the most comprehensive meta-analysis of its kind of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined EPA+DHA in relation to BP.

Reference: Am J Hypertens (2014) doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpu024; First published online: March 6, 2014

Abstract: American Journal of Hypertension (http://bit.ly/1lAvDgp)

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