Meta-Analysis: Omega-3s Reduce Arterial Stiffness

July 11, 2011

A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that omega-3’s could influence heart health by reducing stiffness of the arteries.

A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that omega-3’s may influence heart health by reducing stiffness of the arteries.

Australian researchers pooled results of 10 randomized and controlled adult human clinicals investigating the effects of omega-3 supplementation on arterial stiffness. Trials ranged from 6 to 105 weeks in duration, with supplementation of 640 to 3000 mg of combined omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the form of daily capsules. A total of 550 participants were included in the meta-analysis, ranging from healthy men to subjects with various cardiovascular conditions, including overweight, diabetes, and hypertension.

Included studies measured changes in arterial stiffness through pulse wave velocity or arterial compliance (the measure of an artery’s ability to contract and expand).

Omega-3 supplementation resulted in statistically significant responses for both forms of measurement. Pulse wave velocity was reduced by a standard mean difference of 33% while arterial compliance suggested a 48% reduction. Changes in arterial stiffness were reported after factoring in any changes to blood pressure, heart rate, or body mass index.

The researchers claim their meta-analysis is the first of its kind to assess effects of omega-3 supplementation on arterial stiffness.

“The findings of the present study reveal that supplementation with [omega-3] offers a scientifically supported means of reducing arterial stiffness,” wrote the study’s authors. “Reduction in arterial stiffness by [omega-3] may account for some of its purported cardioprotective effects.”

Further research is warranted to determine the optimal dosages of EPA and DHA to elicit the affect on the arteries.

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