"Our findings contradict the current belief in the medical community that increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids produces only long-term cardiac benefits," said the study's lead author, Fernando Holguin, MD, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA. "In fact, our study group showed improvements in heart function in as little as two weeks."
Researchers from Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, and Cuernavaca, Mexico, took the HRV of 58 elderly patients every other day for two months to establish an HRV baseline for each participant. For 11 weeks, half of the study participants took a daily 2 g supplement of fish oil, which contains marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids, and the other half took a daily 2 g supplement of soy oil, which contains plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids improve heart function by providing greater variability between beats, therefore reducing the risk of arrhythmia and/or sudden death. Heart rate variability is measured by high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) domain components and standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN). Those who received fish oil experienced a significant increase in total HF and LF domain components and SDNN. Patients who received soy oil experienced a marginally significant increase in HF and LF domain components and a significant increase in SDNN.
"Reduced HRV predicts mortality and arrhythmic complications in patients who have had a heart attack, as well as those who are considered healthy," said Dr. Holguin. "Taking a daily supplement of fish or soy oil may
Contact: Arielle Green
American College of Chest Physicians