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Can omegas help hearts heal after attack?

Results from the OMEGA-REMODEL clinical trial suggest improved heart function and reduced scarring in patients who took omega-3s after heart attack.

Omega-3s may help hearts heal after heart attacks, according to a study that echoes and explains the findings of previous research. For patients in the study, high daily doses of PUFAs were associated with improved heart function and reduced scarring in undamaged muscle.

After a heart attack, the heart’s shape and function can be altered, and not in a good way. It’s called post-heart attack remodeling and is linked with poor outcomes and can lead to heart failure. Therapies that prevent this, or can help hearts heal, are scarce, according to a statement from the American Heart Association about the study.

In the OMEGA-REMODEL randomized clinical trial, researchers found that, compared to those taking a placebo, patients taking a dose of 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily for six months had less scarring in the non-damaged heart muscle and a reduction in ventricular end-system volume index, a clinical marker that's a predictor of patient outcome after a heart attack. The researchers also found a reduction in biomarkers for inflammation, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids have some anti-inflammatory properties.

"Heart failure is still a major problem after a heart attack despite all the therapy we have and the advances in interventional care," Raymond Y. Kwong, MD, MPH, senior author of the study and director of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a release. "Our findings show that omega-3 fatty acids are a safe and effective treatment in improving cardiac remodeling, so it may be promising in reducing the incidence of heart failure or death, which are still major healthcare burdens to patients who suffer a heart attack." The study results appear in the journal Circulation.

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