Heart study shows benefit of fish oil

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Heart attack victims can halve the risk of suffering a further cardiac arrest by embarking on a regular diet of mackerel and tuna, research shows.

Heart attack victims can halve the risk of suffering a further cardiac arrest by embarking on a regular diet of mackerel and tuna, research shows.

A study of more than 11,000 heart attack survivors in Italy found that omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish greatly increased their chances of staying alive.

Three months after a cardiac arrest the risk of patients suffering a subsequent attack was reduced by 42 per cent if they took a one-gram fish oil supplement each day.

The scientists said the benefits of omega-3 probably derived from their ability to reduce episodes of fatal irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. The chief researcher, Dr Roberto Marchiolo, from the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud research institute in Santa Maria Imbaro, Italy, said: "The risk of death, and sudden death, is higher in the first months after a heart attack. It is exactly in this period that the effect on sudden death was noted."

By the end of the three-year study the risk of sudden death was about 2 per cent for people who took the supplements and 2.7 per cent for those who did not.

All the participants ate a healthy Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish. Yet those who took the fish oil supplements still had fewer deaths than those who did not.

The results were published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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