Systolic hypertension is a major risk factor for the onset of strokes and cardiovascular disease. A new double-blinded, randomized controlled trial (1) has shown that a daily dose of fish oil containing 0.7 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) taken for eight weeks was able to reduce systolic blood pressure by a clinically significant 5 mmHg in adults with systolic hypertension.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is largely caused by reduced arterial reactivity and stiffness. Approximately half of adult males and a third of adult females in the United Kingdom have untreated hypertension (i.e., systolic blood pressure of more than 160 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of more 100 mmHg) and hence are at considerably greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
In the current trial, a daily dose of fish oil containing 0.7 mg DHA and EPA taken for eight weeks was able to reduce systolic blood pressure by a clinically significant 5.2 mmHg in adults with systolic hypertension. This intake level of DHA and EPA can be achieved using two to three portions of oily fish a week or daily consumption of two typical fish oil capsules. The trial took place in the United Kingdom and had 362 participants. The authors commented that a reduction in systolic blood pressure of ca. 5 mmHg would equate to an approximate reduction of 20% of the risk of cardiovascular disease in middle age. The use of a higher dose of 1.8 g of DHA and EPA per day did not produce any further improvements in blood pressure reduction.
This study corroborates a meta-analysis carried out for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) last year (2), which found that EPA and DHA lowered blood pressure in adults with hypertension by 4.5 mmHg systolic blood pressure and 3 mmHg diastolic blood pressure.