Vol 13, No 7 (2006): Folia Cardiologica
Review Article
Published online: 2006-09-15

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The cardiovascular implications of omega-3 fatty acids

Robert C. Block, Thomas A. Pearson
Folia Cardiol 2006;13(7):557-569.


Nutrition is an important factor in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in North America and the world. Observational studies have generally favoured a beneficial role of n-3 fatty acids in the prevention of heart disease, especially in the prevention of sudden cardiac death. The results of more recent randomised controlled studies, however, have made conclusions regarding the benefit more controversial, with the suggestion of possible harm with fish oil supplementation to those with diagnosed cardiovascular disease.
We provide an overview of the results of studies to date and introduce the controversial topics of the omega-6/omega-3 ratio, the public’s concerns regarding ingestion of mercury from marine n-3 sources and the potential role of highly bioactive n-3 metabolites in the process of atherosclerosis. We also provide some general guidelines for the ingestion of n-3 fatty acids that may help clinicians and patients make informed decisions.

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