Fish Oil Fights Heart Failure

With major medical problems, even small advancements in our understanding of treatment may offer benefits to patients.  That appears to be the case in a new study of fish oil supplements and chronic heart failure.

Drugs have been used for many years to treat chronic heart failure, a condition that hinders an enlarged heart from pumping blood around the body.  In August, an Italian research group reported a certain fish oil supplement may provide more benefits to a patient than the drug rosuvastatin, commonly known as Crestor. 

In their study, researchers used an omega-3 pill derived from fish oils.  A pill was given daily to more than 3,000 patients suffering from chronic heart failure.  According to the study, patients who took omega-3 survived longer than those who took a placebo.  The same researchers gave Crestor to 2,200 patients.  The researchers say the Crestor patients didn’t do any better than those given a placebo. 

Scientists not involved with the Italian study say the research indicates fish oil provides slight, but measurable, benefits for chronic heart failure patients.  Scientists aren’t sure why fish oil helps, but they suspect the Omega-3 strengthens cell membranes that are in the process of breaking down.  They also caution against assuming all patients will benefit from fish oils.  Only the patient’s doctor, they say, should determine if and when fish oils could be helpful in lengthening the life of someone suffering from chronic heart failure.