Taking the recommended 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids via daily krill oil supplements appears to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease for people with type 2 diabetes, according to a new study led by researchers at Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN). The study is published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.
Since 2002, the American Heart Association has recommended a daily intake of 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Many people eat fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, and trout, or take fish oil supplements to meet this recommendation. However, krill oil, which is made from small crustaceans, provides the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in a different form than fish oil and may be more easily absorbed by the body.
Participants in the study showed improved endothelial function after four weeks of a daily krill oil supplement compared with participants receiving olive oil, and further improvement following an additional 17 weeks of supplementation. Endothelial function is the ability of the innermost lining of the blood vessels to expand and contract. Several studies have shown a likely correlation between poor endothelial function and cardiovascular events, and it is believed to be a predictor of cardiovascular disease development. Blood levels of HDL—the good cholesterol—also improved in patients following 17 weeks of daily krill oil supplementation.
"Among other complications, people with type 2 diabetes have a greatly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and nearly nine percent of the adult population of our home state of Connecticut has been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes," said Jessika Lobraico, lead research associate at WCHN and lead author of the study. "Our findings indicate that there may be another important way to reduce the risk of heart disease for populations already at a higher risk for these complications." Lobraico added that patients should always check with their health care provider before starting any new supplements or medications.
The researchers say additional study is needed to determine whether longer-term consumption of krill oil would reduce the risk further, and whether their findings for individuals with type 2 diabetes would extend to other high risk populations.
This study was conducted as part of WCHN's clinical research program, where in-house teams lead cutting-edge studies to address the range of needs of patients across the region. The WCHN research program provides direct interaction between bench scientists and patients who participate in studies. The institution's smaller size significantly speeds the transition of new discoveries from the lab to the clinic.
Western Connecticut Health NetworkWestern Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. With this recent affiliation, the organization is now anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the three hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes numerous medical practices and sub-specialties across the region, home health care services, a nationally renowned biomedical research institute, the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation, the Norwalk Hospital Foundation and other affiliates. For more information, visit WCHN.org. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital; Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital and/or Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.