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Higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may lower blood pressure

March 28, 2014

A new review from the US concludes that adequate intakes of omega-3 fatty acids can decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

The meta-analysis included results of 70 randomized controlled trials (mean duration 69 days) evaluating a potential link between intakes of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and blood pressure in participants with normal blood pressure and patients with hypertension (1). The analysis showed that among all participants with increased intakes of DHA plus EPA (mean EPA+DHA dose: 3.8g/day), systolic blood pressure decreased by an average 1.52 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 0.99 mm Hg, while placebo showed no significant effect. Among those with hypertension, the effect was even greater, with an average reduction in systolic blood pressure of 4.51 mm Hg and an average reduction in diastolic blood pressure of 3.05 mm Hg.

The researchers commented these findings show that omega-3 fatty acids can be as effective or more effec- tive in lowering blood pressure than other lifestyle interventions, including restricting sodium and alcohol in- take and increasing physical activity. The decrease of systolic blood pressure among those with high blood pressure could prevent an individual from having to take medication to control blood pressure levels or pre- vent an individual from moving toward a more progressive stage of hypertension.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31% of Americans are hypertensive, 30% are prehypertensive, and approximately 20% are hypertensive yet unaware of their status (2). Only 47% of those with hypertension are adequately controlled. Prior research shows that diet and lifestyle modifications, including physical activity, sodium reduction, and fish oil supplementation, can reduce blood pressure, enhan- ce antihypertensive drug efficacy, and decrease cardiovascular disease risk (3).

References

  1. Miller P. E. et al. Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. American Journal of Hypertension. Published online March 2014.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: prevalence, treatment, and control of hypertension – United States, 1999–2002 and 2005–2008. MMWR Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep 2011; 60:103–108.
  3. Roger V. L. et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics – 2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012; 125:e2–e220.