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Coronary artery disease, a cardiovascular condition characterized by the gradual buildup of plaque within the heart’s arteries, is the third leading cause of death worldwide, claiming the lives of nearly 18 million people each year. A recent meta-analysis found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 18 percent and myocardial infarction (heart attack) by 23 percent, underscoring omega-3s' effectiveness as an adjunct therapy for coronary artery disease.

The investigators analyzed the findings of 12 studies involving more than 29,000 people with coronary artery disease. The various studies lasted between one and five years and used both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), marine forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Doses ranged between 0.84 and 3.46 grams daily for EPA + DHA and between 1.8 and 4 grams daily for EPA alone.

The analysis revealed that omega-3s reduced the risk of premature death from all causes by 10 percent, cardiovascular disease by 18 percent, myocardial infarction by 23 percent, sudden cardiac death by 33 percent, and hospitalization for heart failure or unstable angina pectoris (chest pain caused by lack of blood flow to the heart) by 25 percent in patients with coronary artery disease. These effects were strongest among patients receiving EPA only and those with high triglycerides.

These findings suggest that omega-3s, especially EPA, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly among people with high triglycerides. Triglycerides play critical roles in the pathophysiology of coronary artery disease. Elevated triglyceride levels often accompany other conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, further exacerbating the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Learn about the early research showing omega-3s' effects on reducing triglycerides.

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