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Omega-3s for peripheral artery disease

Recent evidence suggests that high-dose pharmaceutical grade omega-3s can impact cardiovascular disease. How well does it work for PAD, though?

Study under review: Effects of Omega-3-Polyunsaturated Fatty on Endothelial Function in Patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Trial.

Introduction

Peripheral artery disease[1] is a disease in which one or more of the peripheral arteries are partially or completely blocked, often referred to as occluded. It is estimated that peripheral artery disease affects over 200 million[2] individuals worldwide. The blocked/occluded vessels are primarily the result of plaques in the vasculature, which not only restricts blood flow but also greatly reduces the ability of the vasculature to dilate in response to circulation needs.

Long chain, omega-3-polyunsaturated (omega-3) fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been investigated as potential therapeutic options for peripheral artery disease. These long chain omega-3s have been shown to improve blood flow and endothelial function[3], as assessed by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in previous studies. Recently, a meta-analysis[4] was conducted, showing that this effect is observed in multiple trials. FMD is a measurement of how responsive the endothelium is to increases in blood flow. The basics of FMD are covered in Figure 1. While it’s measured more in studies than in the clinic, FMD is a useful measurement[5] for predicting disease outcomes, such as cardiovascular events or cardiovascular death.

Despite earlier evidence showing beneficial effects of omega-3s on FMD, there is a paucity of evidence among people with peripheral artery disease. The present study was a randomized, single-center, double-blind, placebo controlled trial examining the effect of omega-3 supplementation on endothelial function in people with peripheral artery disease.

Peripheral artery disease is a disease of the peripheral vasculature involving endothelial dysfunction. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve endothelial function in earlier trials involving people without peripheral artery disease. The present study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial examining the effect of omega-3 supplementation on endothelial function among people with peripheral artery disease.

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Other Articles in Issue #59 (September 2019)