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Can Fish Oil Supplements Prevent Strokes?

By , 9:00 am on

The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat 3.5 ounces of oily fish at least twice weekly to get a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids. According to a survey performed by the National Institutes of Health, more than 18 million adults believe that taking fish oil supplements instead of eating oily fish benefits cardiovascular health. However, the type of fish oil supplement taken is an important factor, as not all of the supplements are the same. 

The Amarin pharmaceutical company recently explained the results of their research on a prescription fish oil supplement called Vascepa. The supplement, designed to provide seniors with much-needed omega-3 fatty acids, was determined to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, such as strokes, by up to 25 percent in people diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The Fish Oil Supplement Study

For approximately five years, researchers followed 8,179 subjects with an elevated risk of cardiovascular events. The study was based on people currently using statin medications to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Their average LDL levels were 75 milligrams/deciliter. Many of the study participants continued to have high triglyceride levels. The average triglyceride level for people in the trial was 216 milligrams/deciliter. Healthy levels are less than 150 milligrams/deciliter. The volunteers were also diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other risk factors, including hypertension.

Vascepa contains a form of omega-3 fatty acid known as EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid. During the trial, half of the people received a four-gram capsule of the Vascepa fish oil supplement. The other half of the group took a placebo. By the conclusion of the study, the Vascepa recipients had reduced their risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event by approximately 25 percent compared to the control group.

A similar study performed by researchers in Japan found that providing an EPA-based supplement in combination with a statin drug was also associated with a marked reduction in cardiovascular events. 

Along with taking medication, following a healthy diet, exercising, and staying active are ways seniors can reduce their risk of a stroke, but some may find it challenging to implement new habits on their own. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care. Rocklin Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

More Data Is Needed

The results of the Amarin study are yet to be published. Dr. Sarah Samaan, a physician at the Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Plano, Texas, believes the study shows potential for the medication. However, Dr. Samaan explains that there are too many factors that remain unresolved. 

While Vascepa is FDA approved and currently prescribed by physicians, the reduced risk of cardiovascular events may be due to several variables, in addition to triglyceride levels. Not enough information is known as to whom the medication will benefit the most. There’s also no data relating to Vascepa use in individuals who aren’t taking statin medications. 

Many seniors develop cardiovascular conditions as they age. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Rocklin seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Difference in Fish Oil Supplements

Over-the-counter products and other prescription fish oil supplements contain EPA and DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid. One of the benefits of Vascepa is the fact that the formulation doesn’t raise LDL levels. On the other hand, medications containing DHA do. DHA is especially problematic for people who have high triglyceride levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids, whether from diet or supplements, are part of a healthy diet, but some aging adults need a bit of help when it comes to getting proper nutrition. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Rocklin, CA, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at 916.226.3737.