The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

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

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Omega-3 and the incidence of arrhythmias and fatal heart attack

    Researchers in Netherlands studied high-risk patients with a previous myocardial infarction and diabetes.

    First, the details.

    • 1,014 adult patients with diabetes and a history of having a heart attack were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 4 margarines for 41 months.
    • The margarines contained different combinations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
      • ALA
      • EPA-DHA
      • EPA-DHA + ALA
      • Placebo
    • The groups did not differ significantly, regarding use of blood thinner and blood pressure medications, lipid-lowering drugs, and antidiabetic drugs.

    And, the results.

    • The patients consumed on average 19 grams of margarine per day.
    • 29 patients developed a ventricular arrhythmia, 2 died suddenly, 1 had a nonfatal cardiac arrest, 11 had a fatal cardiac arrest, and 15 had a cardioverter defibrillator implanted.
    • Eating the omega-3 margarine resulted in an additional intake of 223 mg EPA plus 149 mg DHA and/or 2 grams ALA.
    • After adjusting for age, gender, and current smoking, consumption of omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced ventricular arrhythmia: 1% vs 6% for placebo — a significant difference.
    • The omega-3 fatty acids also helped reduce other cardiovascular events.
    • Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation did not make a significant difference for fatal heart attack.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Low-dose supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids exerts a protective effect against ventricular arrhythmia–related events in post-heart attack patients with diabetes.”

    It’s important to remember that these patients all had a history of myocardial infarction. Therefore, it isn’t known if the results apply to people who never had a heart attack.

    Also, although more than a thousand patients started the study, only a small number had an arrhythmia, heart attack or related event. And the findings are based on this small sample.

    12/23/11 20:32 JR

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