ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
CANCER
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
HELP TO LOSE WEIGHT ON A LOW CAL BUDGET
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
EYE CARE, VISION
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
FITNESS
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Coffee Cuts Liver Scarring in Hepatitis C
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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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