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UCSF Doctors Using Fish Oil To Help Prevent Vascular Scarring

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The many benefits of omega 3 fatty acids have been well-documented: studies show that cultures who eat a diet high in omega-3s have lower levels of depression, while children who eat plenty of omega-rich foods have reduced symptoms of ADHD and improved mental skills, including learning ability and memory. Meanwhile, more recent reports suggest that omega 3 fatty acids can help prevent psychosis, help smokers kick the habit, and more. For this reason, it’s no wonder many people turn to fish oil supplements, which have high concentrations of omega-3, to take advantage of these qualities. Now, the University of California San Francisco is in the process of applying fish oil benefits to new medications and treatments to promote artery repair.

Improved cardiovascular health is one of the most prominent omega-3 and fish oil benefits, with the American Heart Association recommending that people eat fish at least twice a week to protect against heart problems. Those who do have heart attacks and other problems, however, will likely have to undergo a procedure in which a narrowed coronary tube is propped open with a tiny mesh tube, called a stent. This helps restore healthy bloodflow, but in as many as 25-33% of cases, vascular scarring will thicken the artery and render the stent ineffective. Similar problems can also develop in angioplastys, bypass surgery, fistulas, and even grafts for patients on dialysis.

However, fish oil may be able to help. The body heals itself by promoting inflammation and then using additional compounds to halt this process; however, during the surgery to place the stent or other implement, the body’s inflammatory response causes the artery to respond by forming scar tissue. But because the body’s anti-inflammation compounds contain omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil should be able to prevent inflammatory scarring. As a result, two doctors at UCSF are trying to create a combined approach of special devices and fish oil to better treat a variety of medical conditions.

To date, the doctors have been able to prove that a special fish oil drug can help reduce scarring in mice and rabbits who have undergone angioplastys; moreover, the test subjects had lower white blood cells, which could be a sign of accelerated healing. Currently, the team is at work designing a special stent that will be able to reduce scarring while releasing the biolipid fish oil drug over time. This will mean that fewer patients will have to undergo repeated procedures or experience problematic results from their surgeries. The benefits are clear; remember these potential fish oil benefits when you consider taking steps for a healthy heart.

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