Heart DiseaseOmega-3 Fatty Acids

The direct effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the heart

Omega-3 fatty acid consumption has been linked to reductions in the risk of death from heart disease.

Now, researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine report that omega-3 acts directly on the heart rather than acting through the vagus nerve, which normally regulates the heart rhythm.

Here’s what they did.

  • Electrocardiograph (EKG) data from 18 heart transplant patients who received omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (1 to 3.4 grams/day) for 4 to 6 months were examined.

Here’s what they found.

  • Compared to before treatment, omega-3 treatment was associated with reduced heart rate and prolonged QRS duration (a measure of the beating of the large chamber [ventricle] of the heart) in heart transplant patients who were presumably devoid of any vagus nerve effects.

What does it mean?

  • It’s added knowledge about the effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • The findings suggest that omega-3 fatty acids might modify the electrical activity of the heart directly.

More than you ever wanted to know about the EKG is available here. Go to page 82 for more info on the QRS complex.

1/21/07 13:35 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.