You may know that I'm not a fan of statin drugs. They can cause some serious side effects, they usually aren't needed, and there's no proof that they prevent heart attacks or extend mortality. But if you feel like you should take them, there's a supplement you can take with it that will help the statin prevent a heart attack.

A recent Japanese study followed over 18,000 patients, all of whom were on a low-dose statin. The researchers gave half of them a highly purified fish oil (1,800 mg). And the other half they gave a placebo.

The fish oil group had a 19% reduction in major coronary events compared to the control group. This was highly significant. But, ironically, the mechanism had nothing to do with cholesterol. Both groups saw a 26% drop in their average LDL cholesterol (to 183 mg/Dl at baseline).

The authors found that the benefit came from reduced thrombosis, arrhythmia, inflammation, and triglycerides. Overall, this study shows that fish oil, at a dose of 1,800 mg per day, "is a very promising regimen for prevention of major coronary events, especially since fish oil seems to act through several biological mechanisms."

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The study really should have tested fish oil by itself (without a statin) to see if the fish oil alone would have the desired effect. Other research suggests it would. So I'm not sure why you would want to take the statin too. But if you do, make sure you take fish oil along with it.

In an editorial that accompanied the study, The Lancet editors noted that you'll get the most risk reduction when you eat a "modest regular intake" of fish. That's around 250 mg of fish oil per day, which corresponds to one to two serving of fish per week.

The Japanese eat an average of one serving of fish per day. In fact, 90% of the Japanese eat fish once a week. And they have an extremely low rate of heart attacks.

Clearly eating fish oil will reduce your risk of heart attacks and other events. However, there's an increasing problem with contamination of seafood. Since I'm a vegetarian, I prefer to get my omega-3 from land-based sources, such as flax, hemp, and especially green leafy veggies. And I have no known vascular disease.

If you do have heart disease of any type, then you should consider fish oil supplements. Just be sure that you're using a brand that's molecularly distilled, as is the fish oil found in Healthy Resolve's Max Plus (800-728-2288). That removes heavy metals and other contaminants. If you just want the fish oil and not the multivitamin, I like Arctic Omega, Biotech, NutriCology, and Carlson's brands (all are available on the Internet and in many health food stores).

Ref: The Lancet, March 31, 2007.

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