You’re probably already familiar with omega 3 fatty acids and their many benefits for health - especially in preventing cognitive decline, heart disease and cancer thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega 3 fats are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in marine and plant oils. They are considered essential, meaning that they cannot be synthesized by the human body. At the same time, they are considered vital for normal metabolism.
A recent study published online in the journal Kidney International looked at the likely health benefits of omega-3 fat consumption for people on hemodialysis - who are at the greatest risk for sudden cardiac death or SCD.
This study - the first to examine this critical question - examined 100 patients who died of SCD during their first year of hemodialysis, along with 300 patients who survived.
The research authors from the Indiana University School of Medicine found that higher blood levels of omega-3 fats in patients who were just starting hemodialysis were very strongly associated with a lower risk of SCD over the first year of treatment.
The five-year survival rate for patients on hemodialysis is 35 percent, with the risk of death being the greatest in the first few months of starting treatment. The most common cause of death in these patients is SCD, accounting for one out of every four deaths.
The annual rate of SCD for patients on hemodialysis is a shocking 6-7 percent, equal to or perhaps even greater than the rate in patients with actual heart failure - making this study a necessary and vital first step toward identifying a possible treatment for SCD in hemodialysis patients.
In fact the study authors believe their findings are so important, they deserve a further placebo-controlled clinical study to confirm these promising results.
Omega 3 fatty acids can be obtained from certain foods, such as fish oils, algal oil, squid oils, as well as plant oils such as Sacha Inchi oil, echium oil and flaxseed oil.
Therefore, these findings also have important implications for the type of diet and dietary supplements that should be routinely made available to patients on hemodialysis.