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Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: Their potential role in blood pressure prevention and management

Heart International 2006;2(2):98-105


Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from fish and fish oils appear to protect against coronary heart disease: their dietary intake is in fact inversely associated to cardiovascular disease morbidity/mortality in population studies. Recent evidence suggests that at least part of their heart protective effect is mediated by a relatively small but significant decrease in blood pressure level. In fact, omega-3 PUFAs exhibit wide-ranging biological actions that include regulating both vasomotor tone and renal sodium excretion, partly competing with omega- 6 PUFAs for common metabolic enzymes and thereby decreasing the production of vasocostrincting rather than vasodilating and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. PUFAs also reduce angiotensin- converting enzyme (ACE) activity, angiotensin II formation, TGF-beta expression, enhance eNO generation and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The final result is improved vasodilation and arterial compliance of both small and large arteries. Preliminary clinical trials involving dyslipidemic patients, diabetics and elderly subjects, as well as normotensive and hypertensive subjects confirm this working hypothesis. Future research will clarify if PUFA supplementation could improve the antihypertensive action of specific blood pressure lowering drug classes and of statins. (Heart International 2006; 2: 98-105)


Fish, Fish oil, Omega 3 fatty acids, Polyunsaturated fatty acids, PUFA, Eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA, Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, Blood pressure, Hypertension

Published Online

June 01, 2006


Prof. Claudio Borghi, Hypertension Research Center, “D. Campanacci” Clinical Medicine & Applied Biotechnology Dept., Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital - University of Bologna, Via Massarenti, 9, 40138 Bologna - Italy,

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