Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: The epidemiological evidence
- Cite this article as:
- Simopoulos, A.P. Environ Health Prev Med (2002) 6: 203. doi:10.1007/BF02897971
Epidemiological studies in the last 40 years suggest that omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish and fish oil decrease the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke, and their complications. The beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids include effects on lipids, blood pressure, cardiac and vascular function, eicosanoids, coagulation, and immunological responses. However, not all population studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with reduced rates of coronary mortality. Such studies suffer either from small numbers of subjects or the population already had a high intake of fish. When comparing the highest intake of fish to that of the lowest fish intake, the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown. In population-based case-control studies, the patients consuming modest amounts of fish, the equivalent of one fatty fish meal per week, had a significant lower risk of primary cardiac arrest compared with those who did not eat fish at all. In case-control studies, the intake of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid as reflected in adipose tissue content is inversely associated with risk of myocardial infarction.