Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine May 2010

Report

Optimize Your Omega-3 Status

Personalized Blood Test Reveals a Novel Cardiac Risk Factor

By Julius Goepp, MD

Critical Ratios

Critical Ratios

Dr. Holub’s own work demonstrated that the omega-6: omega-3 ratio is closely and inversely correlated with total omega-3 levels.18 That is, the lower the omega-6:omega-3 ratio, the higher the total proportion of fatty acids represented by beneficial omega-3s. Holub’s group found that an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of less than 4.5 corresponded with total omega-3s of greater than 7.2%, at which level significant protection against developing heart disease results.18,29 Your Omega Score™ report will include this vital ratio calculated from your own fatty acid composition.

The arachidonic acid (AA) to EPA ratio is another important measurement of risk for atherosclerosis and its consequences.38 AA is an omega-6 fatty acid that is metabolized into dangerous mediators of inflammation, including leukotrienes and prostaglandins, while EPA tips the scale in the direction of anti-inflammatory activity, so EPA helps downregulate these pro-inflammatory agents. A lower AA:EPA ratio is correlated with reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases.39

The average American male has a dangerously high ratio of 16.2, whereas the maximum recommended AA:EPA ratio is 5.18 By contrast, Japanese men, whose diets are rich in omega-3s through fish consumption, generally possess AA:EPA ratios of 1.7,18 reflecting a substantially lower risk of chronic inflammation.33

Supplementation with EPA can have a powerful effect on the important AA:EPA ratio, in one study dropping it from a concerning 23.7 at baseline in people with coronary artery disease to a remarkable 4.9.40 And a falling AA:EPA ratio was strongly correlated in reduction in gene expression of the inflammatory mediator IL-1b in patients with coronary artery disease.41 Finally, supplementation with EPA suppressed triglyceride synthesis in liver cells and reduced liver fat accumulations in lab animals on a high-fat high-sugar diet.42 Together these results compellingly demonstrate the importance of knowing (and responding to) the AA:EPA ratio.

Convenient At-Home Blood Sampling

Your Omega Score™ report will include your own AA:EPA ratio, allowing you to determine and track your risk for systemic inflammation, a primary cardiovascular disease risk marker.

Convenient At-Home Blood Sampling

This novel, convenient technology does not require a trip to a blood-drawing lab. You obtain the blood specimen yourself by finger stick at home, then send the sample in to the lab for testing. Your result, complete with graphic illustrations of your risk categories, will arrive in the mail.

Most first-time users of the Omega Score™ who are not already taking adequate levels of fish oil can expect to find themselves with higher-than-desirable risk levels.18 They may then take steps under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner or registered dietician to address their cardiovascular disease risk and monitor the changes they are making. Those who are already taking fish oil will discover if the amounts they are taking are providing them with the greatest possible risk reductions. Some people will find they either need to adjust their dose or their ratios of oils to obtain greater health benefits.

If your numbers reflect anything other than the lowest risk category, a high-quality fish oil supplement is recommended. Repeat the test in 4 weeks and adjust your supplementation accordingly to reduce your cardiovascular risk to the lowest possible level. Of course, because your metabolism and lifestyle change over time, it is important to repeat the test periodically to detect any undesirable reversals that would increase your cardiovascular disease risk.

How Much Omega-3 Should You Ingest?

It is by now widely recognized that the typical North American diet is replete with omega-6 fats (most commonly in the form of vegetable oil) and sorely lacking in omega-3s.43,44 The Canadian government’s department of public health, typically more forward-thinking than organized medicine in this country, has taken the step of recommending a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 not greater than 4:1 for optimal cardiovascular health. Yet the typical American diet hovers at a ratio of roughly 8:1.1

EPA and DHA may reverse the potentially deadly effects of this egregious dietary imbalance in as little as three weeks. In fact, individuals ingesting 2,000-4,000 mg for that interval have experienced significant improvements across a range of key cardiovascular risk factors, including platelet aggregation (clotting potential), lower triglycerides, improved endothelial function, and reduced blood viscosity (“thickness”).1,2,45 Research indicates that in some patients on lipid-lowering statin drugs, the addition of omega-3 may reduce levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterol while maintaining a better safety profile than adding additional drugs.1,46 By favorably influencing electrical conduction in heart tissue, EPA and DHA supplements can also reduce cardiovascular disease mortality, especially sudden cardiac death.1,3,47

You may think of a regular heart rate as a sign of good health, but in healthy humans, heart rates should undergo slight variations. For this reason, low variability in heart rate is predictive of increased risk for coronary heart disease, death, and arrhythmias (irregular heart beat).48 In adult heart attack survivors, 4 grams of combined EPA and DHA per day was able to restore heart rate variability to normal levels.49 And endothelial dysfunction, the complex result of years of elevated cholesterol, inflammation, and structural remodeling of tissue, is improved in large arteries by 3-4 grams/day of combined omega-3 supplements.50

These benefits save lives. For example, in people with established coronary artery disease, ingestion of fish oil concentrate containing 55% EPA/DHA (6 grams/day for 3 months, followed by 3 grams/day for 21 months) substantially slowed progression of cardiovascular disease. These individuals also had fewer heart attacks and strokes compared to controls.15

Finally, in one of the largest of its kind, a European prevention study of 2,836 subjects showed that supplementation of less than 1 gram/day of EPA and DHA over 3.5 years in patients who’d already suffered one heart attack reduced the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease by an average of 30%.16

How to Obtain Your Omega Score™

To order the Omega Score™ test, just call 1-800-208-3444. You will receive a test kit in the mail. Simply collect a sample and return it in the pre-paid envelope. You will receive your test results by mail. The retail price is $175. As an introductory offer for Life Extension® members only, the price is being reduced to $98 until June 7, 2010.

Summary

Omega-3 fatty acids combat cardiovascular disease through a host of interrelated mechanisms, including the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, elevation of beneficial HDL, and reduction of triglycerides and VLDL. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in blood and cell membranes strongly influences cardiovascular disease risk factors. Until recently there was no good way of knowing your omega-3 status and the risk that it represents. A new at-home test called the Omega Score™ allows for convenient determination of your individual omega-3 status and your risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease. This breakthrough technology enables you to establish several critical threats to your health, including risk of sudden cardiac death, risk for developing heart disease, risk of fatal ischemic heart disease, and risk of sudden heart attack. With this revolutionary analytic technology, aging individuals can optimize their omega-3 status and minimize their risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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