Omega-3 fatty acids cut fatal heart attacks, reduced pain and improved heart and blood vessel function in those with very high cholesterol and heart failure, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) reduced side-effect muscle pain from statin drugs in those with high cholesterol, according to results from three new studies.
In an omega-3 study, researchers recruited 18,645 Japanese participants who ate a large amount of fish but who were at risk for heart disease because of very high cholesterol levels, over 252 mg/dL. Participants took 1,800 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day plus statin drugs or a placebo with statin drugs, for five years. After an average follow up period of 4.6 years, researchers found that compared to placebo, those who had taken EPA were 19% less likely to have had a major coronary event including sudden cardiac death, fatal and non-fatal heart attack, unstable chest pain (angina pectoris) and vascular surgery including angioplasty, bypass or stent.
In another omega-3 study, researchers recruited 24 men and one woman, average age 60, whose hearts were unable to fill with or pump enough blood (heart failure), and who had had a heart attack. Participants were keeping the heart failure stable with drugs including beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and diuretics, and 23 of the 25 participants were also taking statin drugs. Researchers randomly assigned a 2,000 mg combination of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) plus EPA—minimum 85% DHA/EPA content—or a placebo, for four months. They found that those who had taken omega-3s had significantly improved heart function (heart rate variability) and blood pressure (baroreceptor regulation).
In a CoQ10 study, researchers recruited 32 participants with high cholesterol who were taking statin drugs and who had reported a side effect of muscle pain (myopathy). Doctors assigned 100 mg of CoQ10 per day or a placebo of 400 IU of vitamin E per day and found that after 30 days, those who had taken CoQ10 reported 40% less severe pain and 38% better ability to perform daily activities.