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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Some fatty acids better than electronics at preventing sudden death

ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say omega-3 fatty acids might prevent more sudden deaths than defibrillators in homes and public places or even implanted defibrillators.
Researchers at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., compared such preventive strategies in a computer-simulated community of 100,000 people that resembled the population of Olmsted County, Minn., in 2000.
By raising omega-3 fatty acids levels among the cyber-Olmsted citizens, Dr. Thomas Kottke and colleagues were able to lower overall death rates in the simulated population by 6.4 percent.
By contrast, automated external defibrillators, or
AEDs, reduced death rates by 0.8 percent, and implanted defibrillators, ICDs, reduced deaths by 3.3 percent.
People can raise their omega-3 levels by eating fish or taking supplements.
Kottle said the research suggests raising
omega-3 fatty acids "would have about eight times the impact of distributing AEDs and two times the impact of implanting ICDs."
Gary Moller comments:
What continues to amaze me is how little traction these studies have on prescribing practices.

It was not that long ago that we considered food to be a rather passive contributor to health (Not sure if this is the best way to describe this, but it'll have to do). We now know that certain foods or food derivatives have powerful preventive and therapeutic effects.

So, for example, if a person has elevated risk of a heart attack or stroke, it makes sense to deliberately boost their intake of healthy oils that we know have important protective effects on the heart muscle and the circulation. (Of course, we would do a few other preventive measures as well).

Example: reducing risk of a blood clot; if, as the evidence is crying out, the omega oils have powerful stabilising effects on the blood, why would anyone ever want to prescribe an expensive and toxic medication that is based on rat poison?

Is it because, like vitamin D (derived from sunlight), these oils are cheap and freely available?

To me the choice for prevention is a no-brainer - who would ever want to cart around a bulky electronic defribulator!


Natyashenka said...

The research you quote Gary is very important. However warfarin (rat poison) has its place in treating patients at high risk of venous and to a lesser extent arterial thrombosis. (It is NOT an expensive drug as it has been of patent for decades). Both omega 3 fatty acids and anti coagulants have their place as do defibrillators. You need a bit of balance in your reviews Gary!

Gary Moller said...

Fair comment Natyashenka and most appreciated. This is the wonderful thing about open forums like this because any body can comment - they help bring a certain level of balance to what might otherwise be a one-sided diatribe.

What I have not yet been convinced of is that Warfarin is actually safer and more effective than, say, fish oil, at preventing thrombosis. The distinct feeling that I am getting from reading and actual practice is that fish oil is proving to be an effective agent for preventing blood clots as well as having many other health benefits - too many to list here. Perhaps somebody would like to list the health benefits of Warfarin and we can publish them? Perhaps we should do a risk comparison and list the health risks of fish oil and Warfarin? That would be interesting.

Whether it is a dollied-up version of rat poison or soap suds, common sense as well as the self-preservation instinct tells me that these should be kept outside the body and not in it. There is no need for research to tell me this.

Also, as I mentioned in my commentary, there would be a number of other measures in addition to Omega oils like fish oil, including changes to one's diet and exercise and even experimenting with taking a long, hot bath each day. Such measures are seldom given more than passing attention in the treatment mixes and seldom, if ever, are they funded. By contrast here in NZ with just 4 million people, close to a billion dollars is allocated to subsidising pharmaceutical prescriptions and only about one million on the Green Prescription.

People with heart disease that I have had any dealings with have only ever had their vitamin D levels tested at my insistence. I can't understand why this does not happen as a matter of course when there is such a strong link between low vitamin D and cardiovascular disease. Can anybody give me an answer? Is it because it is free?

If I sometimes come across sounding exasperated, that is because I am. It is wrong that effective, natural and health-promoting measures are almost without exception brushed aside in favour of potentially hazardous and usually very expensive pharmaceutical interventions. It is also without question that the pharmacuetical approach to treating modern diseases does much harm in many cases, if not the majority. I have seen enough of this over the years to be very sceptical of much of what is going on in the name of health care.