Omega-3s Can Significantly Reduce Blood Pressure

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A study published online today shows that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA – commonly found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements – are as effective, if not more effective, in lowering blood pressure as some of the commonly recommended lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and restricting alcohol and sodium intake. The findings, released by the American Journal of Hypertension, are good news, especially for those with elevated blood pressure– estimated to be approximately 60 percent of the U.S. adult population.

The study, a comprehensive meta-analysis, examined 70 randomized controlled trials, or RCTs, conducted with adults who were given EPA+DHA omega-3s from seafood, fortified foods, or dietary supplements. The study included trials with subjects with normal blood pressure and those with hypertension but not taking blood pressure-lowering medications."Results from this study build on a wealth of prior data indicating that EPA+DHA intake reduced the risk of cardiovascular events," said Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED). “It is now well-established that EPA and DHA reduce triglycerides and blood pressure and even highly critical meta-analyses have found that they reduce cardiac death risk by 9 percent."

The most significant effects were observed in subjects with existing high blood pressure. Among those with high blood pressure, the average decrease in systolic blood pressure (SBP) was 4.51 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was reduced by an average 3.05 mm Hg. Additional observations included:

>>An average decline in SBP of 1.52 mm Hg and in DBP of 0.99 mm Hg among all subjects

>>A drop in SBP by an average 1.25 mm Hg and in DBP by 0.62 mm Hg in normotensive subjects

>>An average decrease in SBP of 1.75 mm Hg and in DBP of 1.11 mm Hg among those subjects taking EPA and DHA supplements, like fish oils, regardless of blood pressure status

OMEGA-3 BENEFITS OUTWEIGH OTHER LIFESTYLE CHANGES

The findings were made even more dramatic when compared with reductions achieved through commonly recommended lifestyle changes, as indicated in the chart below.

Lifestyle Intervention

 

   

Blood Pressure Reduction

 

 
Consuming EPA and DHA omega-3s     4.51 mm Hg1  
Reduced dietary sodium    

2.5 mm Hg6

 
Increased physical activity     2.0 mm Hg6  
Decreased alcohol consumption     1.4 mm Hg6