Omega-3 fatty acids are essential substances for the development and function of human organism. They cannot be synthesized in humans, and consequently have to be acquired from food, almost exclusively from fish. Omega-3 fatty acids exert potent anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic actions by interfering with the metabolism of arachidonic acid, modifying lipid composition (mainly lowering triglycerides), improving hemodynamics and reducing cardiac hypertrophy. Recently, clinical and experimental studies demonstrated an anti-arrhythmic effect and a significant impact on survival after myocardial infarction (MI). It follows that omega-3 fatty acids have been widely accepted for clinical use in patients with dyslipidemia or with atherosclerotic disease and in survivors of acute MI. This review briefly explores the metabolic mechanisms and the clinical effects of this class of substances and considers their use in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: Omega-3, lipids, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, atherosclerosis, arrhythmias
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