ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
CAREGIVING
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Vitamin B12 Key to Aging Brain
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
EYE CARE, VISION
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
FITNESS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
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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