Fish oil appears to boost the power of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, new research suggests.
In a study led by Brigham and Women's Hospital, researchers found a combination of statins and EPA omega-3 fatty acids provides significantly better heart-healthy effects than medication alone. The one-two combo was shown to reverse damage to so-called endothelial cells in blood vessels — a precursor to heart disease.
"We know that endothelial cell dysfunction is emerging as an early and important predictor of cardiovascular disease and plays an essential role in plaque development. Treatments that provide beneficial effects on endothelial function could have very important implications for a patient population at high risk for heart disease," said lead researcher R. Preston Mason, of BWH's Department of Medicine.
"We found that a combination of statins and EPA omega-3 fatty acid, or fish oil, had beneficial effects on endothelial cells and function."
Researchers said the results underscore the importance of coupling high-quality statin therapies with an omega-3 agent such as EPA in potentially reducing cardiovascular risk, in addition to treating elevated triglycerides.
High triglyceride levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, along with HDL, LDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
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