Heart attack: Take this supplement daily to reduce your risk suggests study

Heart attack happens when a blockage in a person’s coronary artery causes part of their heart muscle to be starved of blood and oxygen. It requires immediate medical attention. The good news is, making small changes to one’s lifestyle can reduce the risk of having a heart attack in the first place. In addition to eating heart-healthy foods and keeping active, a new study supports taking omega 3 supplements.

This meta-analysis provides the most up-to-date evidence

Yang Hu, first author

A meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who received omega-3 fish oil supplements in randomised clinical trials had lower risks of heart attack and other cardiovascular disease (CVD) events compared with those who were given placebo.

Researchers found an association between daily omega-3 supplementation and reduced risk of most CVD outcomes, including heart attack, death from coronary heart disease, and death from CVD, but did not see benefit for stroke.

In addition, higher doses of omega-3 fish oil supplements was associated with an even greater risk reduction.

“This meta-analysis provides the most up-to-date evidence regarding the effects of omega-3 supplementation on risk of multiple CVD outcomes. We found significant protective effects of daily omega-3 supplementation against most CVD outcome risks and the associations appeared to be in a dose-response manner,” said first author Yang Hu, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School.

The findings support a growing body of evidence that has linked omega 3 supplementation to heart health. Research has been inconsistent, however.

A large-scale analysis published last year found omega 3 supplementation had “little or no effect” on heart disease risk.

In this new analysis, the researchers did an updated meta-analysis that included three recently completed large-scale trials, which increased the sample size by 64 per cent.

The total population analysed by Hu and colleagues included more than 120,000 adults in 13 randomised trials worldwide.

The analysis included the VITAL trial, the largest randomised trial of omega-3s to date.

The findings showed that people who took daily omega-3 fish oil supplements, compared with those who took a placebo, lowered their risk for most CVD outcomes except stroke, including an eight per cent reduced risk for heart attack and coronary heart disease (CHD) death.

Significantly, the association was stronger at higher doses of omega-3 fish oil supplementation.

“Although public health recommendations should focus on increasing fish consumption, having an overall heart-healthy diet, being physically active, and having other healthy lifestyle practices, this study suggests that omega-3 supplementation may have a role in appropriate patients,” said senior author JoAnn Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

What is a heart-healthy diet?

According to the British Heart Foundation, a heart-healthy diet includes:

  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible
  • Some milk and dairy products
  • Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • Only a small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and/or sugar

“Choose options that are lower in fat, salt and sugar whenever you can,” added the health body.

Keeping active can also reduce the risk, as the NHS explained: “Being active and taking regular exercise will lower your blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.

“Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will help lower your blood pressure.”

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest pain – a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of a person’s chest
  • Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is travelling from the chest to the arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and abdomen
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • An overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
  • Coughing or wheezing

Find out more about the symptoms here. 

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Bill aims to limit nicotine in E-cigarette products

(HealthDay)—A bill to limit the amount of nicotine in electronic cigarette products was introduced Monday by U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi in a bid “to make them significantly less addictive and appealing to youth.”

The bill would restrict nicotine content to a maximum of 20 mg/mL, which matches regulations in the European Union, and would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to reduce the cap if necessary, CNN reported.

Currently, there is no national limit in the United States and some brands have nicotine levels several times higher than 20 mg/mL. Experts say high nicotine concentrations have contributed to what they call the vaping epidemic among U.S. youth, CNN reported.

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Germ transplant helps women with tough-to-treat vaginal infections

Bacterial vaginosis is a common infection in women that’s usually easily treated with antibiotics. But for those who develop recurrent infections, treatment options have been limited.

Now, Israeli researchers report they were able to put recurrent infections into remission in four out of five women who received a “vaginal microbiome transplant.” The transplant consisted of healthy bacteria collected from the vaginal fluid of donors without the condition, the researchers explained.

“Bacterial vaginosis, while not life-risking, is an exceedingly common female disorder that bears a severe toll on women’s lives, including severe discomfort, reduced self-esteem, problems in intimate relationships, social segregation and a variety of risks of developing infectious gynecological and obstetric complications,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Eran Elinav.

“By introducing this new treatment, we hope to have come a step closer towards providing an affordable solution for millions of women across the world,” added Elinav, of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel and Germany.

Bacterial vaginosis affects up to one-third of reproductive-age women, the researchers said. Sometimes the infection causes no symptoms or it may cause a vaginal discharge that smells bad.

After treatment with an antibiotic, the relapse rate is about 30% after three months and as high as 50% to 70% within a year, according to the study. Ongoing antibiotic treatment may help with recurrent infections but can leave women at risk of other infections, such as yeast infections.

The current study included five women aged 27 to 47 years who had recurrent bacterial vaginosis. Their infections hadn’t responded completely to antibiotics.

The researchers recruited three women to donate vaginal fluid to help restore the vaginal microbiomes (the germ communities) of the affected women. Elinav said the fluid was screened for multiple viral and bacterial pathogens, much like blood donations are screened.

Four of the five women had a complete remission, according to Elinav. Three of the women needed more than one “transplant” to achieve remission. He said the fifth woman had a partial remission.

“With this friendly takeover, symptoms and complications associated with the dominance of the bacterial vaginosis microbiome rapidly subside,” he said.

The women who had improvement of their symptoms showed enrichment of their vaginal microbiome with Lactobacillus microbes. These bacteria have been linked to a healthy vaginal microbiome in past research.

The study authors weren’t sure why the fifth woman didn’t have a full remission. Elinav said it’s possible her “bad” bacteria were stronger than the transplanted good bacteria.

He hopes future studies will help optimize donor selection and the chances for success for all women. His team plans to start another study in the coming months, Elinav noted.

Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y., wasn’t involved in the current report. He said, “This study does present an interesting, novel, and potentially effective treatment for those women that suffer from recurrent, intractable bacterial vaginosis, which can adversely impact an individual’s life and have an adverse impact on their health and well-being.”

While no adverse events were seen in the study, Kramer added that “care must be taken to screen donors well to prevent the transmission of other diseases with the transplant.”

Plus, he said the treatment needs to be studied in a much larger group of women.

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