Diabetes patients who had suffered from a heart attack can benefit from omega-3 fatty acids. These food substances lower the risk of getting acute arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), researchers in Human Nutrition conclude in the Diabetes Care magazine this week.
Diabetics given margarine with good fatty acids had seven times less chances of getting acute arrhythmia than those given margarine without extra omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, the risk of getting a heart failure also went down for these patients, who were also less frequently hospitalized for the placing of an implantable defibrillator. This is a device which monitors the heartbeat and takes action when irregular heart rhythm is detected.
The omega-3 fatty acids, however, do not lower the risk of getting a heart attack. 'Apparently, they are good for transmitting electrical signals in the heart, resulting in less chances of acute arrhythmia, but omega-3 fats have not shown any verifiable effects on atherosclerosis in the arteries, the major cause of fatal heart attacks,' says Professor Daan Kromhout of Public Health Research in Wageningen UR and research leader in the Alpha Omega Trial.
The numbers involved in this study were small: only 1014 diabetes patients, of whom 56 had serious heart problems. It is therefore too early to draw definite conclusions, says Kromhout. 'A separate trial which solely looks at diabetics who have had heart attacks in the past is needed to make sure that the effect is present.'