Omega-3 Fortified Margarine Does Not Protect Heart

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It would be easy to think that a margarine fortified with omega-3 oils could protect people from having another heart attack, and that is true; it is too easy and a study shows that the spreads do not help in the prevention of another heart attack.

Omega-3 findings surprised the researchers

Alfred Bove, MD, of Temple University in Philadelphia, said the findings surprised him "because most of the data on omega-3 fatty acids come from epidemiologic studies and those were positive."

Researchers did a 40-month study of more than 4,800 patients who were men and women between 60 and 80 and had suffered a heart attack roughly four years previously. The study showed that taking low doses of omega-3 fatty acids in margarine did not significantly reduce rates of serious heart attacks and other cardiovascular events, Dutch researchers said.

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"It will be viewed as a largely negative study and people who are enthusiasts for omega fatty acids will continue to be enthusiasts and people who are sceptics will continue to be sceptics," said Scott Wright of the Mayo Clinic in the United States, who was not involved in the research.

Daan Kromhout of Wageningen University, who led the study, told the European Society of Cardiology the lack of efficacy might reflect the good background drug treatment patients were receiving, with 85 percent on cholesterol-lowering statins, as well as blood pressure and blood-thinning tablets.

"We found the cardiovascular mortality rate in the study population was only half that expected, probably because of their excellent treatment," he said. "This may also be why the rate of major cardiovascular events during follow-up was no lower in the fatty acid groups than in the placebo group."

Taking in margarine on a bread base also proved to be a weak link Wright thinks. He believes the "trail design was faulty". The bread, which is high in sodium, can pump up blood pressure further, he explained. "So this not a good option for Americans because it would mean eating more bread, which is likely to lead to weight gain and bread is high in sodium, so blood pressure would be a factor," said Wright, who was not involved in the study.

More studies will need to be completed to see if omega-3 fortified margarine does or doesn’t protect the heart from further heart attacks.

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