Allon N. Friedman, MD and his colleagues compared omega-3 blood levels of 100 patients who underwent sudden cardiac death within the first year of dialysis to levels measured among 300 survivors. A declining risk of death was observed in association with increasing levels of omega-3 fatty acids, with those whose levels were among the top 25 percent of subjects having an 80 percent lower risk than those whose levels were lowest.
"We found that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood of patients who were just starting hemodialysis were very strongly associated with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death over the first year of their treatment," stated Dr Friedman, who is an associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Division of Nephrology.
"The risk of sudden cardiac death in hemodialysis patients is highest during the first year of treatment,” he noted. “The annual rate of sudden cardiac death is about 6 to 7 percent, which may even exceed the rate in patients with heart failure. This study is a first step toward identifying a possible treatment for sudden cardiac death in dialysis patients.”
"Because omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from certain foods, such as fish oil, our findings also have important implications for the type of diet we recommend to patients on dialysis," he added.