Fish oil supplements to be prescribed to heart patients Published: 06 November, 2006
MILLIONS of heart attack survivors will be prescribed fish oil supplements for life on the NHS in a bid to prevent further seizures.
New guidelines being drawn up for doctors recommend heart patients get a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of a second attack.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently advises that patients who have suffered a heart attack should eat a Mediterranean-style diet and increase their consumption of oily fish to between two and four portions a week.
However, according to the Evening Standard, the new guidance will say doctors should prescribe a one gram capsule of fish oil a day to heart attack survivors to prevent a second attack, at a cost to the NHS of less than £1 a day.
The move comes as an increasing number of studies have highlighted the benefits of eating oily fish or taking fish oil supplements: it has been shown to cut the risk of heart disease, help children’s growth and improve performance at schools.
The panel making the latest recommendation says it is based on ‘robust’ research evidence, citing a study of 11,000 heart attack survivors, which showed those taking fish oil supplements regularly, had a lower risk of death, non-fatal heart attack and stroke.
The health service spends £1.73 billion annually caring for heart disease victims and it is thought the move would save money for the NHS in the long-term – particularly if patients took the capsules for life.
The guidance has been put out for consultation to professional bodies and heart charities and will take effect early next year.
Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death in the UK accounting for 125,000 deaths each year.
Around 270,000 Britons each year have a heart attack, with up to three-quarters surviving but at higher risk of having another one.
Patrick Holford, founder and chief executive of the Food For The Brain Foundation charity, reportedly said it was well recognised that eating at least two oily portions of fish a week halved the risk of a second heart attack.
He said omega-3s were truly a “super food” because they were healthy fats critical to maintaining a wide range of body functions.
He said: For far too long we have been digging our own graves with a knife and fork.
“Heart attacks will not be stopped by taking medication but by giving up the wrong foods, and the wrong kind of fats.”
Research shows regular fish eaters are 30-40 per cent more likely to survive a heart attack. Omega-3 has been shown to have huge benefits in a number of areas, including helping babies grow in the womb, which is critical for brain, nerve and eye development.
They have also been found to help young people improve results at school and improve the concentration of children with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD.
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