Fish oil drug helps shrink plaque in coronary heart arteries

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Research we observe

A drug made from a highly purified form of EPA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish) appears to help reduce plaque in the heart arteries, according to a study published online by the European Heart Journal on August 29, 2020. The results could explain why the drug Icosapent Ethyl (Vascepa) reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in people at high risk for these serious problems by 26%.

The study included 80 people with fatty plaque in the arteries of the heart (coronary artery disease). Most of them had diabetes and were taking a statin. Her triglycerides were elevated and ranged from 135 to 499 milligrams per deciliter. Half were randomly selected to take 4 g of icosapent ethyl daily. The other half received a placebo.

After 18 months, imaging tests showed that the group taking the drug had fewer unstable (dangerous) plaques compared to the placebo group. The total volume of plaque was also lower among those taking the drug.

Image: © ksbank / Getty Images

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