Fish oil could potentially save more lives than cardiac defibrillators, devices used to revive individuals whose hearts have stopped beating and to prevent and treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias, researchers estimate in a new report.
Past research has linked the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish to a lower risk of fatal heart rhythm disturbances. This latest study tried to estimate the potential public health impact of raising adults' omega-3 levels with fish oil supplements.
Using a computer-simulated community of 100,000 Americans and data from past medical studies, the researchers calculated that raising omega-3 levels would save 58 lives each year.
This amounts to a 6.4-percent total death reduction -- mostly by preventing sudden cardiac death in apparently healthy people, according to the study authors, led by Dr. Thomas E. Kottke of the Heart Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Conversely, the researchers estimate that far fewer lives would be saved by defibrillators, devices that deliver a "shock" to restart the heart or to resolve ventricular fibrillation, an otherwise fatal heartbeat irregularity in which the heart quivers instead of contracting normally.
The study, which is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, has its limitations, as a computer simulation.
Courtesy, Reuters Health
Steve - these are the kinds of studies we need to see more of! This is a proactive, not reactive study.