Newswise – Rockville, Md. (April 27, 2021) – Fatty acid supplements may protect children with high cholesterol from heart disease later in life by increasing their blood levels of healthy omega-3s, according to a new study. Researchers at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, will virtually showcase their work this week at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) Annual Meeting in Experimental Biology 2021.

Previous research has shown that high blood levels of beneficial fatty acids, including the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) found in seafood, are associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease and a higher chance of disease are healthy aging. “Because coronary artery disease develops early in life in children with high cholesterol, lifelong treatment must be started in childhood,” said Dr. Marguerite M. Engler, first author of the new study. This is especially important as the global obesity rate is increasing in young people and the long-term safety of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs in children is unknown.

The researchers in the current study looked at children aged nine to 16 with high blood cholesterol. The children followed a Mediterranean diet, known to be high in lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains, and “healthy” fats like olive oil and fish for six weeks, followed by continuing the diet plus an EPA supplement for an additional six Weeks. The research team measured the children’s fatty acid levels before and after the Mediterranean diet for six weeks and again after the combination of diet and EPA supplementation for six weeks. Taking the EPA supplement for six weeks increased the blood levels of EPA and DPA. DPA is inherently anti-inflammatory and prevents platelets from sticking together, which helps preserve the cardioprotective properties of the fatty acids.

“The good news is that our results show that we can change the lipid profile in the blood of children at high risk of heart disease with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to a cheaper anti-inflammatory agent [lipid profile] that has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and [with] healthy aging, ”said Engler.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team or to request the abstract: “Eicosapentaenoic acid increases plasma omega-3s in hyperlipidemic children: a cardioprotective nutrient?” Please contact them APS communication office or call 301.634.7314. Further research highlights can be found in the APS newsroom.

About Experimental Biology 2021

Experimental biology is the annual meeting of five societies that deals with the latest research in the fields of physiology, anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology and pharmacology. With the aim of sharing the latest scientific concepts and research that shape clinical advancement, the meeting provides an unprecedented opportunity for global exchange between scientists representing dozen of scientific fields, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.

Via the American Physiological Society

Physiology is a broad field of research that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues, and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society brings together a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators to advance scientific discovery, understand life, and improve health. The society drives collaboration and highlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scientific journals and programs that support researchers and educators in their work.

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