Updated March 12, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Post-menopausal women, losing the heart-protective effects of their reproductive hormones after menopause, become vulnerable to develop serious cardiovascular complications such as heart attack and stroke.
A study published in the international journal JAMA has shown that among women, a higher consumption of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), particularly CHD deaths.
In what is considered a landmark study, the investigators tracked down 84,688 female nurses enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study aged 34 to 59 and free from cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline in 1980.
During the 16-year follow-up, women with a higher intake of omega-3 had lower risk factors, so the effect on the outcome was mainly attributed to the intake of omega-3 sources.
Even after adjustment for age and other cardiac risk factors, the women with higher omega-3 intake had a 31-percent lower risk for CHD.
Health experts consider this new finding as significant since based on scientific reports, heart disease claims more women’s lives, particularly after menopause than other dreaded diseases including breast cancer.
Another study from the Physicians Health Study (PHS), also published in JAMA, also showed that higher intake of omega-3 reduced risk from sudden death, a common fear of heart patients.
Seventeen years of follow-up revealed that progressively higher serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with progressively and dramatically lower risk for sudden cardiac death.
A third study (from Italy) assessed data from more than 11,000 patients with recent heart attack who had been given omega-3 supplementation, vitamin E or both.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplement reduced death risk by 41 percent at three months, mostly from reduced risk for sudden death. Vitamin E added no benefit.
Heart experts recommend that eating fish regularly (especially deep-sea fish such as salmon) or taking omega-3 fish oil supplement appears to reduce heart disease risk safely and cheaply for most people.
The beneficial effects of fish oils have been attributed to various mechanisms, including reduced triglyceride levels, reduced inflammation in the arteries causing atherosclerosis or narrowing, slightly lowered blood pressure, reduced blood clotting, and reduced tendency of the heart to develop abnormal rhythms.
Other benefits attributed to the regular intake of fish oil include alleviation of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, improvement of brain function, and protection of kidneys in transplant patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy.
Omegabloc is one of the brands of omega-3 fish oil locally available in Mercury and other leading drugstores.
It has been available in the country for more than 10 years. Usual recommended dose is one softgel capsule two to three times daily.
Omegabloc comes from NOW Foods in the United States, one of the top manufacturers of vitamins and food supplements worldwide. NOW Foods is represented in the Philippines by Trianon International.
Charles Cultura, Trianon International sales and marketing manager, said that although Omegabloc is an over-the-counter product and requires no prescription, many doctors are now prescribing it to their patients with established heart disease or those with multiple risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol problems, obesity and smoking.
He said provincial distributors are welcome and interested parties may call 892-0723 or 24 or text 0917-8858786.
There is a reason why the heart is so important. Not just because it is the harbinger of feelings such as love and happiness, but also because it pumps blood through our body’s vessels. Keeping it healthy is therefore everybody’s top priority.
But when it comes to taking care of one’s heart, every person has his or her own idea on how to do it right. Some would say exercise would definitely keep one’s heart healthy, and some would claim that eating right would lead to a healthier heart.
These opinions are based on personal experiences, and sometimes based on what we’ve read on medicine books or what we see on television. But what do the experts really think? The doctors at Philippine Heart Association (PHA) share their beliefs on having a heart-healthy lifestyle.
“It is finding time to indulge in a fitness activity, keeping it sacred, and pursuing it with passion.”
-Dr. Ma. Belen Q. Carisma
“A heart-healthy lifestyle means setting reasonable goals, even for your health. It does not mean you have to engage in strenuous exercises. Rather, it could be a simple walk in one’s subdivision or doing yoga. Also, you should engage in activities that enhance your other talents and skills like singing and dancing!”
-Dr. Maria Teresa B. Abola
“A heart-healthy lifestyle is avoiding the major risk factors: smoking, stress, etc. Personally, to keep my heart healthy, I stay on a diet, meaning my cholesterol is moderated, and I also do exercises at least three times a week. I make sure that I do not let stress overcome me. I spend time with my loved ones and I keep my work problems separate from my personal life.”
-Dr. Eleanor Lopez
“A heart-healthy lifestyle is when you exercise, because your body releases endorphins. It makes you feel good the natural way.”
-Dr. Efren Vicaldo
Immediate Past President
“It is a lifestyle that sticks to regular exercise program and a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables. It is also a nicotine-free lifestyle with enough time to relax and nourish the mind and spirit.”
-Dr. Saturnino Javier