Friday, March 02, 2012

How To Lower Irregular Heartbeat Risk?

According to some estimates, up to 9 percent of Americans will develop atrial fibrillation (AF) by the time they reach their 80s. AF is the most common heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Though it may cause no symptoms, it is often associated with palpitations, fainting and chest pain. It could eventually lead to stroke and heart failure.

AF might be treated with medications to either slow the heart rate to normal range (range control) or revert the heart rhythm back to normal (rhythm control). People with AF are often prescribed with blood-thinning drugs to prevent stroke.

A new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reported on January 26, 2012 in the journal ‘Circulation’ that older adults who had the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were 30 percent less likely to later develop an irregular heartbeat than those with the lowest blood levels of omega-3.

The omega-3 fatty acids measured in the study were eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They can be found in oily fish and some enriched foods like eggs and in fish oil supplements.

While some previous studies have suggested that people who ate a lot of fish had a lower risk of developing AF, these studies relied on questionnaires answered by participants about how much fish they ate, which could only estimate the amount of omega-3s they consumed.

To get a more accurate measurement, the researchers sampled blood from 3,326 adults aged over 65. These participants’ health was tracked over the next 14 years (1992-2006) and 789 were found to develop AF.

Researchers’ analysis showed that those with the top 25 percent omega-3 levels in the bloodstreams at the beginning of the study were about 30 percent less likely to develop AF, comparing with those with the bottom 25 percent blood levels. Of the 3 omega-3 fatty acids, high DHA levels were linked to a 23 percent lower risk for AF, but no reduced risk was found for EPA and DPA.

Other heart experts not involved in the study cautioned that the study did not prove eating fish could lower AF risk. The study, however, did provide some idea that the fatty acids found in fish could work by stabilizing the excitability of heart muscle cells. Meanwhile, they also suggested further studies should be carried out to find out how fish oil might be used as a potential preventive measure against AF.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's also important to undergo health screenings that can determine if you have an abnormal heart rhythm,to know the possible causes or if it can be linked to a heart problem