STEMI is a very serious type of heart attack in which the main arteries of the heart are blocked.
Illustration of the human heart. Image courtesy Patrick J Lynch / Wikimedia Commons
The fact that omega-3s are good for your health is well known. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are three types of omega-3 fatty acids in the foods we eat: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Of these, ALA is found in plant sources such as soy, nuts, and seeds, while EPA and DHA are mainly found in fatty fish and other seafood.
Since your body cannot make much of these essential fatty acids naturally, it is necessary to get them from food sources. Increasing your intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to improvements in heart health, cognitive function, eye and skin health, and cancer prevention.
A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that regular consumption of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and ALA, increases the risk of negative clinical outcomes and mortality in people May lower myocardial infarction or heart attack.
Omega-3 for heart attack patients
Coronary artery disease (CHD), and heart attacks in particular, are some of the leading causes of death worldwide. Advances in immediate medical care and techniques have decreased mortality from heart attacks, but the need for post-heart attack care and lifestyle changes to prevent further complications or a second heart attack require more attention. The researchers behind this study hypothesized that regular consumption of such foods by heart attack sufferers could also have immense benefits, as those who consume more omega-3-rich foods have better cardiovascular outcomes.
To make this hypothesis, the researchers conducted an observational study of 944 patients who developed ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). STEMI is a very serious type of heart attack in which the main arteries of the heart are blocked. This type of heart attack is so severe that it is also known as a “widowmaker’s heart attack”.
The participants were observed between 2011 and 2016, with their basic data collected at the time of their hospital stay due to the heart attack. Blood samples were taken at the time of admission and 12 hours after the onset of the heart attack. Of the 944 patients, 209 were women and the mean age of all participants at the time of admission was 61 years.
The researchers analyzed the omega-3 levels in the blood samples to determine how much of this essential fatty acid these patients had consumed in the weeks leading up to the heart attack. They then wanted to determine whether those who had higher levels of omega-3s in their blood also had a lower risk of complications after a heart attack during a three-year follow-up period.
Both EPA and ALA are required equally
The scientists found that those who had elevated serum EPA levels in their blood at the time of the STEMI had a significantly lower risk of serious coronary adverse events, or MACE, during the follow-up period. This means that these patients did not experience acute coronary syndrome, second heart attack, heart failure, or cardiovascular death during the follow-up period. You also had fewer re-admissions due to complications, proving that continued consumption of omega-3-rich foods improves your heart attack survival rate and associated health traits.
The study also indicated that in addition to EPA levels, high ALA levels also contributed positively to the health of heart attack patients. This means that people who have had a heart attack – or even people at risk for heart disease – should consume plant-based omega-3 foods high in ALA in addition to fatty fish, fish oils, and seafood that are high in EPA are. ALA is found in large concentrations in walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, soybeans, rapeseed oil and many other types of nuts and seeds, as well as the oils made from them.
For more information, see our article on heart attack.
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