ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
CANCER
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
CAREGIVING
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Smog Tougher on the Obese
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Add your Article

Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure

By Ed Edelson
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Daily supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids -- the kind found in fish oil -- reduced deaths and hospitalizations of people with heart failure, an Italian study found.

But a cholesterol-lowering statin drug had no beneficial effect in a parallel heart failure trial.

"This confirms what we've been seeing for a couple of decades in observational studies," Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, said of the fish oil trial. "There is a benefit of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for heart failure patients."

Both findings were published online Aug. 31 in the journal The Lancet and presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, in Munich, Germany.

The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) study, done by a consortium of 357 Italian cardiology centers, enlisted more than 7,000 people diagnosed with heart failure, which is the progressive loss of the heart's ability to pump blood. Half took a daily capsule containing omega-3 PUFA, the other half took a capsule with a placebo. The death rate in the PUFA group was 27 percent, compared to 29 percent in the placebo group.

That reduction might not seem like much, but it impressed Mozaffarian, who has done his own PUFA studies.

"There are few treatments we have in medicine that affect total mortality in patients," he said. "Just a handful of treatments affect total mortality. Even a small move percentage-wise is a very important effect."

In absolute terms, the Italian researchers reported that 56 people with heart failure would have to take PUFA supplements for about four years to avoid one death. The supplements also reduced hospitalizations, with one less hospitalization or death for every 44 people taking the supplements for four years.

Similar results have been reported in two earlier trials, Mozaffarian said. But they did not have the strict conditions of the Italian study, which were placebo-controlled and "double-blind," meaning that neither the physicians nor the participants knew who was getting the active substance rather than the placebo.

"You always like to have a placebo-controlled trial," he said.

But the positive trial results don't mean that anyone with heart failure can start taking fish oil supplements on their own, said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, who wrote an editorial accompanying the journal report.

"They used a specific formulation, a prescription formulation," Fonarow said. "Heart failure is a very high-risk condition. It is absolutely critical for patients, whether it is a prescription medicine or modification of diet or a supplement, that they consult their physician."

The negative results of the statin trial were a surprise, Fonarow said. It included more than 4,500 people with heart failure, half of whom took the statin rosuvastatin (Crestor), while the other half took a placebo. The death rate was 29 percent in the statin group, 28 percent in the placebo group.

The result doesn't mean that a statin should not be prescribed for someone with heart failure and high cholesterol, Fonarow said. "There were no safety concerns," he said. "The drug was well tolerated. It indicates that heart failure, in and of itself, should not be reason to start a patient on a statin."

The study "doesn't shut the door" on the use of statins for heart failure, Mozaffarian said, "but it closes it partly. Maybe another statin would have a benefit. It definitely makes us question the benefit of statins in heart failure, but it doesn't close the door completely."

Another report in the same issue of the journal that was led by British cardiologists described a trial of the drug ivabradine, which reduces the heart rate, in people with coronary artery disease and an unusually fast heart rate. The drug reduced deaths and hospitalizations significantly, the researchers said.

More information

Learn more about heart failure and its treatment from the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., professor of cardiovascular medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; Aug. 31, 2008, European Society of Cardiology meeting, Munich, Germany; Aug. 31, 2008, The Lancet, online

Last Updated: Sept. 01, 2008

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