In elderly people with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood, the risk of developing cardiac arrhythmia is 30% lower compared to peers with low omega-3 levels, according to American scientists.
By some estimates, up to 9% of people suffer from atrial fibrillation at the age of 80 years. Heart rate abnormalities can lead to stroke and heart failure.
To date, there are several treatments for this disease, and they focus on preventing strokes by taking medications that dilute blood.
In a new study published in the journal Circulation, representatives of omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were studied. They are found in oily fish, eggs, and also in fish oil.
In earlier studies, scientists relied on data on the amount of fish consumed. "However, depending on the type of fish, the amount of Omega-3 can vary tenfold," said the author of the Mozefferian study. Therefore, in a new study involving more than 3,300 people over the age of 65, all subjects used exclusively fish oil to more accurately assess the effectiveness of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Over the next 14 years, they checked the health of participants and found that 789 participants had atrial fibrillation.
People who had a 25% higher level of omega-3 fatty acids at the start of the study compared with other participants had a 30% lower risk of arrhythmia.
"This is a significant risk reduction," said Alvaro Alonso, a professor at the University of Minnesota (USA), who did not participate in the study.
A 30 percent reduction in risk would mean that instead of 25 people, arrhythmia will develop in only 17 out of every 100 people.
Of the three Omega-3 fatty acids, a high level of DHA influenced the risk of developing atrial fibrillation by 23%, while EPA and DPA did not reduce the risk of developing this disease.
Alvaro Alonso warned that this study is not a guide to action, as it gives only some idea that the fatty acids that are contained in the fish can stabilize the excitability of the cells of the heart muscle.
He added that these results seem promising enough to warrant further research into the use of fish oil as a potential preventive measure against arrhythmia.