Taking a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil daily for six months after a heart attack improved heart function and reduced scarring in undamaged muscle.

The heart’s shape and function can be altered after a heart attack, a condition known as post-heart attack remodelling and it is linked with poor patient outcomes and could lead to heart failure. Therapies that can improve healing of the heart or prevent adverse remodeling, remain scarce. Now, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, researchers found patients taking a dose of 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily for six months: experienced (a) a 5.8 percent reduction in left ventricular end-systolic volume index: a clinical marker that can predict patient outcome after a heart attack; and (b) had a 5.6 percent reduction in a measurement of scarred connective tissue (fibrosis) formation in the non-damaged heart muscle.

“Heart failure is still a major problem after a heart attack despite all the therapy we have and the advances in interventional care,” said Raymond Y. Kwong, M.D., M.P.H., senior author of the study. “Our findings show that omega-3 fatty acids are a safe and effective treatment in improving cardiac remodelling, so it may be promising in reducing the incidence of heart failure or death, which are still major healthcare burdens to patients who suffer a heart attack.” The researchers also observed a reduction in biomarkers for inflammation, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.