Supplementing with omega-3s can reduce your risk of cardiac death by 8%
11/28/2018 // Tracey Watson // Views

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that a quarter of all deaths in the United States are directly attributable to heart disease. Over 600,000 Americans die from this killer disease each year, and it is the leading cause of death in both men and women. The three main risk factors for the disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and smoking, and 47 percent of Americans have at least one of these factors. Diabetes, being overweight, a poor diet, lack of physical exercise and excessive alcohol use amp up the risk of heart disease even further.

The first important steps after a high triglyceride or cholesterol test, or, for that matter, a heart disease diagnosis, is to urgently give up smoking, take up regular, moderate exercise, and to lose weight. In addition, the results of a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology confirmed that increasing consumption of omega-3s can reduce the risk of cardiac death resulting from heart disease by a substantial eight percent.

EPA and DHA omega-3s found to reduce risk of cardiac death

For their meta-analysis, the research team examined the results of 14 randomized, controlled trials which involved 71,899 participants. As reported by Integrative Practitioner, this was the first published meta-analysis using cardiac death as the primary endpoint, and represents the most comprehensive review of all existing studies examining the link between omega-3s and cardiac death to date.

All the studies reviewed were longer than six months in duration and compared the number of cardiac deaths in those receiving omega-3 supplements to those in the control groups who did not. The studies reviewed were published before December 2016, and included both pharmaceutical and dietary supplement omega-3 interventions. Studies where participants were given fish as the source of omega-3s EPA and DHA were not included in the analysis.


Overall, in the omega-3s groups 1,613 cardiac deaths were recorded, while in the placebo groups 1,746 people experienced cardiac death. This represented an overall risk reduction of eight percent, but the results in those with elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels were even more impressive, as reported by EurekAlert:

The meta-analysis showed even greater -- 17 percent -- risk reduction in groups who had elevated triglycerides or LDL cholesterol. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that EPA and DHA omega-3s may be most useful for reducing cardiac death in higher risk individuals (see table), which is important since The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 25 percent of adults in the US have triglyceride levels ?150 mg/dL (3) and 27 percent have LDL cholesterol levels ?130 mg/dL (4). The greatest reduction in cardiac death rates -- an almost 30% risk reduction -- was observed in trials that utilized dosages of more than 1 gram of EPA and DHA per day.

The meta-analysis results harmonize with the recommendations of the American Heart Association, which has noted that omega-3s treatment is a reasonable course of treatment for the prevention of heart disease and sudden cardiac death, as noted by Dr. Kevin Maki, the study’s lead author.

How to increase intake of omega-3s

Omega-3s offer many other benefits besides reducing the risk of cardiac death, and increasing their consumption is both easy and inexpensive. Food sources high in omega-3s include fatty fish, walnuts, soybeans, olive oil and chia seeds. Experts advise eating seafood and fatty fish at least twice a week as an excellent way to boost omega-3 levels. (Related: Omega-3 fatty acid consumption associated with lower risk of early death.)

When it comes to taking an omega-3 supplement, various organizations recommend different amounts as the “safe” threshold, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommending up to three grams per day, and the European Food Safety Authority insisting that there are no safety issues associated with as much as five grams a day.

Irrespective of how you choose to increase your intake of omega-3s, the effort is well worth it and you will certainly reap long-term rewards for making that choice.

Find more news on the health benefits of omega-3s at

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