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Intravenous fish oil could lead to shorter hospital stays

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

New research shows that patients in the ICU who received intravenous fish oil had shorter hospital stays compared to those given standard treatment. Decreased inflammation and improved gas exchange in the lungs from the omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil allowed the patients to get better faster and go home sooner.

Patients with sepsis given fish oil were discharged from the hospital earlier compared to those receiving traditional nutrition. The study included 23 patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome or sepsis in the Hospital Padre Américo, Portugal.

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Philip Calder, from the University of Southampton, UK who participated in the study said, "Recently there has been increased interest in the fat and oil component of vein-delivered nutrition, with the realization that it not only supplies energy and essential building blocks, but may also provide bioactive fatty acids." Calder suggested that traditional nutrition that contains omega 6 fatty acids from soybean oil given in the ICU may actually promote inflammation when given in overabundance.

Fish oil is known to reduce inflammation, leading the researchers to explore including fish oil in the normal nutrient solution for patients with sepsis in the ICU. They found significant benefits that lowered inflammation and improved lung function.

The study is the first to explore the benefits of fish oil as part of an intravenously delivered nutrient solution for critically ill patients. "The positive results are important since they indicate that the use of such an emulsion in this group of patients will improve clinical outcomes, in comparison with the standard mix" said Calder.

Thirteen of the 26 patients were given fish oil intravenously. All were able to leave the hospital earlier than the ten patients who did not receive the omega 3 fish oil nutrient, who were also found to have lower levels of inflammatory markers in the bloodstream.