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Omega-3s Reduce Risk of Recurring Stroke

Monday, January 05, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: stroke, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Higher intake of the omega-3 essential fatty acid known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can decrease a person's risk of suffering a second stroke, according to a study conducted by researchers from Toyama University Hospital in Japan and published in the journal Stroke.

Researchers studied 18,645 high cholesterol patients and randomly assigned them to receive one of two cholesterol-lowering statin drugs: pravastatin (also known as Pravachol or Selektine) or simvastatin (also known as Zocor). While 9,319 of the patients received only the designated statin, the other 9,326 had their medication supplemented with 1,800 milligrams per day of EPA. Approximately 5 percent of the patients in each group had previously suffered a stroke.

At the end of five years, the researchers found that supplementation with EPA did not appear to have any effect on participants' risks of suffering a first stroke; 1.3 percent of those in the EPA group suffered a first stroke, compared with 1.5 percent of those in the non-EPA group. This small difference did not achieve statistical significance.

The difference in the rates of second strokes was statistically significant, however, with only 6.8 percent of stroke survivors in the EPA group undergoing a second stroke, compared with a recurrence rate of 10.5 percent in the control group.

The researchers noted that EPA appeared to decrease the risk of a second stroke even though the study was carried out in Japan, where a diet high in oily fish leads most people to have relatively high blood levels of EPA to begin with.

This suggests that "further increases in EPA concentration may lead to prevention of recurrence of stroke," said researcher Kortaro Tanaka.

The current results are consistent with prior research into the benefits of fish oil that has been conducted in the United States and Europe, Tanaka added, implying that "the beneficial effects of EPA which became clear from our study can be applied to other nationalities."

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com.

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