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Cardiac Autonomic Changes Associated With Fish Oil vs Soy Oil Supplementation in the Elderly

      Introduction

      Omega-3 fatty acid levels are associated with decreased risk for sudden death; however, the protective cardiovascular mechanisms of omega-3 are poorly understood. This study addresses the heart rate variability (HRV) changes in a cohort of elderly subjects randomized to receive either a daily high dose of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) or a lower daily dose of a plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid (α-linolenic acid) in soy oil

      Methods

      A total of 58 elderly nursing home residents were randomized to receive 2 g/d of fish oil capsules vs 2 g/d of soy oil capsules, and were subsequently followed up every other day for a period of 6 months with 6-min measurements of HRV while resting supine. An initial control period of 2 months without supplementation was allowed to establish an HRV baseline for each participant

      Results

      The average time-and frequency-domain parameters of HRV increased significantly during the supplementation period in both the fish oil and soy oil groups. In the regression model after adjusting for age and mean heart rate, supplementation with fish oil was associated with a significant increase in the high-and low-frequency components, and SD of normal RR intervals (SDNN), whereas only SDNN increased significantly in the soy oil group

      Conclusions

      Supplementation with 2 g/d of fish oil was well tolerated and was associated with a significant increase in HRV. Supplementation with 2 g/d of soy oil was associated with a lesser but significant increase in HRV

      Key words

      ABBREVIATION:

      ALA (α-linolenic acid), CI (confidence interval), HF (high frequency), HRV (heart rate variability), LF (low frequency), p-NN50 (percentage of successive normal RR intervals differing by > 50 ms), r-MSSD (root square root of the mean of the sum of the squares of differences between adjacent intervals), SDNN (SD of normal RR intervals)
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