ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Sea Worm Inspires Novel Bone Glue
CANCER
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Football Can Shrink Players
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
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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