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Study Suggests That Eating Fish Can Reduce Cardiac Death
Heart disease is still one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States, with almost one in four people dying of a heart related disease every year. It’s no surprise then that many studies and researchers have been devoted to finding any type of solution to the problem. Although no cure has been found to the many types of cardiac diseases present today, there have been many ways found that people can reduce their risk of getting heart disease. One of the most recent ways that scientists have found to be helpful is to add more fish to your diet – research shows that eating fish at least once a month can decrease your risk of heart disease by as much as half.
The study was conducted by the Physician’s Health Study over the period of many years on men aged 40 to 84 years that were also physicians themselves. Each was followed until the end of 1995 and twelve months into the study they filled out the questionnaire about how much fish they ate. It was observed that those that stated that they ate fish at least once a week had not only a lower incidence of sudden death due to cardiac related issues but they also were able to survive any heart attack they might have had unlike their counterparts that did not eat as much fish. Compared to the three percent of men who stated that they never or rarely ate fish, the eleven percent that ate fish more than five times a week had a 52% lower chance of sudden cardiac death. The study also noticed that eating fish more than once a week did not increase the decrease in risk for heart disease though.
Unfortunately, the study seemed to determine that the consumption of fish did not mean that myocardial infarctions or other cardiac endpoints wouldn’t happen at all. Eating fish, and the fact that it contains omega-3s, seemed to be helpful only in regulating the heart’s rhythm which can help with preventing irregular rhythms that lead to cardiac arrests or with regulating the heart again if a cardiac arrest happens. The omega-3s in the fish is particularly what is helpful in regulating this rhythm and can work for both slow rhythms, bradycardia, or too fast rhythms, tachycardia, and even for an irregular rhythm that skips beats now and then.
Omega-3s are helpful for the heart mainly due to two of the fatty acids, EPA and DHA. These two fatty acids work to relax the muscles of the heart and thus regulate the beat of the heart. DHA and EPA are present throughout the whole body, but they are particularly concentrated in the brain, heart, and retinas. Omega-3s can be found in our diets and the foods we eat, but some studies suggest that it takes many months of ingesting DHA and EPA for their concentrations to build up to the proper levels if you are deficient.
The above study focused on eating fish as a source of omega-3s and fish is one of the best sources of the fatty acid. The above study didn’t seem to make a differentiation between any certain types of fish as the best form of omega-3s and suggested that pretty much any type of fatty fish would do. Depending on dietary restrictions or budgets, fish might not always be an option for regular meals though. In this case, supplements can be helpful but other foods can be substituted as well that are high in omega-3s. Soybeans, walnuts, canola oil, chia seeds, and flax seeds are all good sources of omega-3s if you can’t obtain it from some kind of fish. The best fish for omega-3s are tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines should you want to obtain your nutrients from fish.
It seems that omega-3s really do play a part in helping our hearts stay healthy and be able to deal with catastrophic events when they come along. The study found that those that ate fish were half as likely to experience sudden cardiac death and to be more able to deal with cardiac arrest if it happened. Omega-3s can be found in most fatty fish and is also available as supplements and in some other select foods such as chia seeds and walnuts. Taking in the right amount of omega-3s could literally save your life, so don’t put aside this important nutrient.