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Omega-3 fatty acids may improve vascular health in smokers

June 26, 2013

A new study from Greece suggests that a daily treatment with omega-3 fatty acids may support endothelial function and the elastic properties of arteries in healthy smokers.

In the randomized controlled trial, parameters of vascular health were measured in 20 healthy smokers who received either 2 grams omega-3 fatty acids (including 0.92 g eicosapentaenoic acid and 0.76 g docosahe-xaenoic acid) a day or placebo for 3 months (1). The study results showed that, compared with placebo, omega-3 supplementation was associated with significant improvements in flow mediated dilation (FMD –
a measure of blood flow and vascular health) and PWV (pulse wave velocity, a measure of the stiffness of arteries). In addition, the participants receiving omega-3 fatty acids showed improvements in levels of the pro-inflammatory markers (tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6).

The researchers concluded that omega-3 fatty acids seem to improve the function of the cells lining blood vessels (endothelial cells) and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Thus, they could inhibit the detrimental effects of smoking on vascular endothelium. The cardio-protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids appear to be due not through a single mode of action but to a synergism between multiple, intricate mechanisms involve anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic effects. Earlier research has linked polyunsaturated fatty acids to improvements in blood lipid levels, a reduced tendency of thrombosis, blood pressure and heart rate improvements, and improved vascular function.

References

1. Siasos G. et al. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on endothelial function, arterial wall properties, inflammatory and fibrinolytic status in smokers: A cross over study. International Journal of Cardiology. 2013; 166(2):340-346.