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Omega-3 may improve brain health in people with heart disease: Study

Danielle Masterson


Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are associated with better brain function in people with coronary artery disease, says new study

15.11.2019 - NutraIngredients

This study found taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements was associated with better brain function in people with coronary artery disease.
The disease occurs when plaque builds up inside the walls of the coronary arteries, blocking blood supply to the heart and increasing the risk for a heart attack. Plaque buildup can also lead to vascular dementia in which portions of the brain don't get enough blood flow.
Heart disease affects about 16.5 million Americans, making heart attacks and strokes the leading causes of death in the US and world. 
New research from the American Heart Association suggests omega-3 fatty acid supplements keep some heart patients’ minds sharp as they age. 

The study

Researchers enlisted 250 cognitively healthy people with coronary artery disease. For 30 months, half took the highest FDA-approved dose of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. The other half served as a control group. The group taking the supplements had better coordination, reaction speed, memory and recall at 12 months as well as 30 months, compared to the control group.
The study linked better brain function to omega-3 fatty acid supplements in people with coronary artery disease, a heart disease that increases the risk for dementia.

Preventive health 

"Other researchers have looked at omega-3 fatty acids in people who already have cognitive impairment or dementia," said Dr. Francine Welty, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston and one of the study's investigators. "But the people we looked at were cognitively healthy, and we found there may be a benefit from omega-3 fatty acids before cognitive decline begins."

Andrea Wong, Ph.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition, told NutraIngredients-USA that the results are promising: “CRN is encouraged by the initial results of the recent study on omega-3 fatty acids that found supplementation with these nutrients was associated with improved brain function in people with coronary artery disease.

"Decades of research, including clinical trials, demonstrate the importance of omega-3s as essential nutrients for cognitive, prenatal and cardiovascular health. We look forward to reviewing the full study and identifying how it contributes to the growing evidence demonstrating the vast benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.”