Heart attacks happen when the coronary arteries that transport blood and oxygen to the heart become blocked by fatty substances. The worst culprit is a type of blood fat called LDL cholesterol, which clogs up up these arteries. To prevent a build up of the fatty substance, it is important to shun foods high in a type of sat called unsaturated fat.
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While shunning saturated fats, such as processed foods, offers a safeguard against heart problems, increasing your intake of others may also provide a buffer against cardiovascular problems.
New research makes a strong case for upping your intake of fish oil supplements to stave off your risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications.
The role fish oil supplements play in heart health has a complicated history, with studies throwing up competing claims about their benefits.
For example, a meta‐analysis published in JAMA Cardiology found no clear benefit to fish oil supplements in preventing heart disease or major cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, such as heart attack or stroke, in people who were at increased risk for CVD.
An ongoing research study called VITAL found that participants taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements (fish oil) had a significantly reduced risk of heart attack, however.
A new study published yesterday has added further weight to the argument in favour of taking fish oil supplements, providing evidence that makes a highly persuasive case.
The study in question, published in the BMJ, found that fish oil supplements were associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and and death.
To gather their findings, a team of researchers based in China and the US analysed 427,678 men and women between 40 and 69 years old who were enrolled in the study from 2006 to 2010.
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Death certificates and hospital records were used to monitor deaths from any cause, cardiovascular deaths, and events such such as heart attack and stroke, through to 2018.
31 percent reported taking regular fish oil supplements at the start of the study.
After conducting an analysis, the researchers found fish oil supplements were associated with a 13 per cent lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 16 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular mortality.
What’s more, the researchers found the association was consistent after taking account of risk factors like age, sex, lifestyle habits, diet and medication.
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Commenting on the findings, Professor Chen Mao, of Southern Medical University in Guangdong, China, attributed the relationship to several factors.
“For example, omega-3 fatty acid supplements have shown beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart rate, all of which would exert a protective effect against the development of CVD events,” Prof Mao said.
He added: “Fish oil use is associated with a lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality and a marginal benefit against CVD events among the general population.”
What are the main warning signs of a heart attack to watch out?
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), heart attack symptoms can vary but the most common signs of a heart attack are:
- Chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest
- Pain that may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
- Feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Other less common symptoms include:
- A sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack
- Excessive coughing or wheezing.
It is important to note that pain levels can differ from person to person.
The BHF explains: “For some people the pain or tightness in their chest is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable, or pain similar to indigestion.”
It adds: “Heart attack symptoms can persist over days, or they can come on suddenly and unexpectedly.”
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