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Fish Oil is Better Than Drugs for Preventing Heart Failure

September 18, 2008 | 45,778 views

fish, fish oil, omega-3Fish oil supplements appear to work better than a popular cholesterol-reducing drug to help patients with chronic heart failure, according to recently released research.

Researchers gave nearly 3,500 patients a daily omega-3 pill derived from fish oils. Roughly the same number of patients were given placebo pills. Over a four-year period, fewer patients in the group taking the fish oil pills died of heart failure or were admitted to the hospital with the problem.

In a parallel study, the researchers gave nearly 2,300 patients the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor and another group of close to 2,300 patients placebo pills. After four years, there was little difference in heart failure rates between the groups, but when the two studies were compared they found that fish oil is slightly more effective than Crestor because the oil performed better against a placebo than the drug did. 

Chronic heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently around the body. Omega-3 fats have long been proven to offer health benefits such as protecting the heart and brain.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Once again, the science speaks for itself when it comes to using natural methods to improve and protect your health. Animal-based omega-3 fats (fish oil and krill oil) work better than the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor in people with chronic heart failure.

Not only does this amount to major savings for your wallet, it amounts to priceless benefits for your health. Whereas Crestor has been linked to rhabdomyolysis -- a serious muscle disorder -- and kidney problems, omega-3 fats can help you to prevent cancer, dementia, depression and heart disease.

Crestor is also a member of the notorious statin drug family of cholesterol-lowering drugs, the same ones that can actually cause heart disease (along with fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness) by depleting your levels of Coenzyme Q10.

So if you’re faced with the choice of which one to take -- omega-3 fats or drugs -- the superior choice is abundantly clear.

Omega-3 Fats are Essential for Your Heart Health

The omega-3 fats that are of particular interest for heart health include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are found predominantly in animal sources such as fish and fish oils and krill oil.

While the omega-3 in flaxseed and other plant sources (ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid) is also beneficial, ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only at a very low ratio. Even if you eat large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert very small amounts into EPA and DHA, and only when sufficient enzymes are present.

So, hands down, the types of omega-3 that you want to add to your diet are EPA and DHA, which are found primarily in fish.

Here is just a sampling of omega-3's benefits:

• Antiarrhythmic: counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia
• Antithrombotic: tending to prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)
• Antiatherosclerotic: preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries from forming
• Anti-inflammatory: counteracting inflammation (heat, pain, swelling, etc.)

• Improves endothelial function: a major factor in promoting the growth of new blood vessels
• Has beneficial effects on the heart's electrical system, preventing potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disorders
• Lowers blood pressure
• Lowers triglyceride concentrations

If you’re looking for a wonder “pill” to keep your heart healthy, omega-3 fats, in the form of fish oil or krill oil, are about as close as you’re going to get. Of course, they still represent only one facet of heart health.

Keeping Track of Your Heart Disease Risk

Heart disease is actually one of the easiest diseases to prevent, BUT you simply must be proactive. Most of the time there are NO warning signs (one of the top “symptoms” of heart disease is actually sudden death) so you MUST monitor your risk factors.

I find one of the most important risk factors to be your cholesterol to HDL ratio.

Keep in mind that your total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher. And, perhaps more importantly, you need to be aware that cholesterol is not the CAUSE of heart disease. If you become overly concerned with trying to lower your cholesterol level to some set number, you will be completely missing the real problem.

In fact, I have seen a number of people with levels over 250 who actually were at low heart disease risk due to their HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen even more who had cholesterol levels under 200 that were at a very high risk of heart disease based on the following additional tests:

• Your HDL/Cholesterol ratio
• Your Triglyceride/HDL ratios

HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease. 

You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.

The Ultimate Prescription to Prevent Heart Disease

If you are at risk of heart disease, then simply applying the Take Control of Your Health program will virtually eliminate your risk -- sometimes quite rapidly, because it helps to significantly reduce inflammation in your body. And, keeping your inflammation levels low is key if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease (as well as many other chronic diseases).

Just what does this entail? Making lifestyle changes that include:

• Eating according to your nutritional type
• Taking high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats such as krill oil 
Exercising regularly and intensely enough
Managing your emotional stress
• Keeping your vitamin D levels optimized

If you arrange your lifestyle around these recommendations, your heart will definitely thank you.

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