Fish Oil/Omega 3’s Good for Everyone’s Heart



A recent review of fish oil studies that have been performed over the past 30 years suggests that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for everyone (published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology August 2009).  Studies have found that healthy people as well as patients with heart disease (heart attack, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation) benefit from fish oils.

Most of the positive health effects were found with trials using DHA and EPA, which are long-chain fatty acids.  EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements.  Not as much data is available on plant-based ALA which is found in flaxseed and other plants.

Current recommendations for omega 3 consumption:

1)  Healthy people should consume at least 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA, equivalent of 2 fatty fish meals per week

2)  Patients with known heart disease or heart failure should consume 800 to 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day

3)  Patients with very high triglyceride levels may require prescription strength fish oil, should discuss with your healthcare provider

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Heart Healthy Vitamins and Supplements


New vitamin D and fish oil study: how you can participate


The National Institutes of Health is funding a study of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids to determine whether taking these supplements can reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke in people who have no history of any of these conditions.

The study, called VITAL (VITamin D and OmegA-3 triaL) will include 20,000 men and women. Recruitment for the trial will begin in January 2010.

Would you like to participate? Even though the study is being run by Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, people from anywhere across the United States can be a part of the study. Here’s what you need to know.

Who is eligible for VITAL?
Any woman aged 65 or older or man aged 60 or older who has not previously experienced a heart attack, stroke, or cancer (you can enroll if you have had skin cancer) may be eligible to participate in the study. Potential participants must fill out a questionnaire, and those chosen for the study will be contacted by the study team.

How VITAL works
The study is designed for participants to take about 2000 IU vitamin D and/or about 1 gram of fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), or placebo, daily. The chosen participants will receive their necessary supplements and instructions via mail. Eligible individuals will be randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: (1) take both vitamin D and fish oil; (2) take vitamin D and placebo fish oil; (3) take placebo vitamin D and fish oil; or (4) take placebo vitamin D and placebo fish oil.

For each year individuals participate in the study, they will need to complete a questionnaire, which can be completed in about 15 to 20 minutes. The questions are about habits such as exercise, diet, smoking, use of medications, family history of illness, and use of dietary supplements. Participants will occasionally be contacted by telephone to verify or collect information.

Participants must agree to limit their intake of vitamin D (besides the supplements provided by the study) to no more than 800 IU daily and to limit calcium supplement intake to 1200 me or less daily.

How to enroll in the study

You can visit the study website ( after Labor Day, and instructions on how to receive a questionnaire and introductory materials will be posted.

Triglycerides the Forgotten Fat


The PCNA refers to Triglycerides as the forgotten fat – what a great term, everyone is always talking about cholesterol but neglect the importance of Triglycerides.  Triglycerides (TG) are a component of the lipid profile that are often overlooked.  While it is important to control your LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol), increased TG levels are also a risk factor for developing heart disease, especially in women and overweight men.  A normal TG level is UNDER 150 mg/dl.  For TG levels over 200, a woman’s risk of developing heart disease doubles. Triglycerides are both found in food and are also produced by the body. Calories eaten from carbohydrates but not immediately used by tissues in the body are changed to triglycerides and stored in fat cells for future use.  High TG levels are commonly found in people who are overweight, have diabetes, or have low HDL levels.


To lower triglycerides:


Be physically active

Lose weight

Stop smoking

Avoid a diet high in sugar

Avoid carbohydrates-bread pasta rice

Eat a diet high in fiber and whole grains

Avoid alcohol

Add fish oil supplements to your diet


“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” is our brand new book that discusses ways women can lower their risk for heart disease by making healthy lifestyle changes. (80% of heart attacks are preventable)

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