Study: Two Servings of Fish Per Week Can Help Prevent Recurrent Heart Disease

March 12, 2021
Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

The critical component is omega-3 fatty acids, which was associated with a lower risk of major CVD events, such as heart attacks and strokes, by about one-sixth in high-risk people who ate 2 servings of fish rich in omega-3 each week.

Researchers at McMaster University found that eating oily fish regularly can help prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) in high-risk individuals, such as those who already have heart disease or stroke, according to an analysis of several large studies involving participants from more than 60 countries.

The critical component is omega-3 fatty acids, which was associated with a lower risk of major CVD events, such as heart attacks and strokes, by about one-sixth in high-risk people who ate 2 servings of fish rich in omega-3 each week, according to the study authors.

"There is a significant protective benefit of fish consumption in people with cardiovascular disease," said lead co-author Andrew Mente, associate professor of research methods, evidence, and impact at McMaster and a principal investigator at the Population Health Research Institute, in a press release.

In addition, no benefit was observed with consumption of fish in those without heart disease or stroke.

"This study has important implications for guidelines on fish intake globally,” Mente said in a press release. “It indicates that increasing fish consumption and particularly oily fish in vascular patients may produce a modest cardiovascular benefit."

Mente added that people at low risk for cardiovascular disease can still enjoy modest protection from CVD by eating fish rich in omega-3, but the health benefits were less pronounced in high-risk individuals.

The study findings were based on data from nearly 192,000 people in 4 studies, including approximately 52,000 individuals with CVD, and is the only study conducted on all 5 continents. Previous studies focused mainly on North America, Europe, China, and Japan, with little information from other regions, according to the study authors.

"This is by far the most diverse study of fish intake and health outcomes in the world and the only one with sufficient numbers with representation from high-, middle-, and low-income countries from all inhabited continents of the world," said study co-lead Salim Yusuf, MD, professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and executive director of the PHRI, in a press release.

REFERENCE

Study finds two servings of fish per week can help prevent recurrent heart disease. EurekAlert! https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/mu-sf030821.php. Published March 8, 2021. Accessed March 9, 2021.