ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
DASH Diet Has Extra Benefits for Women's Health
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Workplace Wellness Seems to Really Work
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
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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