Everyday fish oil capsule may provide kidney-related benefits

May 1, 2012, Lawson Health Research Institute

Over the past decade, there has been a steady stream of information promoting the health benefits of fish oil capsules. According to Dr. Louise Moist, a Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute, fish oil may also improve outcomes for kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis.

Hemodialysis can be delivered through arteriovenous (AV) grafts, artificial vessels created to join an artery to a vein. Unfortunately, AV grafts are prone to congestion and clotting, causing disruptions to treatment and a need for surgical correction.

Research suggests fish oil could prevent AV grafts from clotting and reduce related cardiovascular events. In a new multi-centre, randomized clinical trial, Dr. Moist and her colleagues followed patients undergoing hemodialysis using new AV grafts for 12 months after creation. Patients were assigned to daily doses of either four fish oil capsules, or four placebo capsules.

Results show those patients taking fish oil experienced a lower rate of , with half as many grafts lost to clotting. The amount of time until clotting occurred increased, and fewer corrective interventions were required. In addition, those taking fish oil had , and lower rates of heart attacks, and other cardiac-related events.

"This study provides very exciting results," Dr. Moist says. "Fish oil did not fix all the problems with but it reduced the number of costly, time consuming procedures for patients already receiving a very burdensome treatment with dialysis. It is not often we have such encouraging results that benefit patients' quality of life and reduce health care costs. "

Moving forward Dr. Moist and her colleagues are planning a second study focusing more intensely on blood pressure and cardiovascular events as related to fish oil. Dr. Moist is hopeful these results could provide a safer way to avoid and extend the patency of the graft during hemodialysis.

The trial was led by Dr. Charmaine Lok at Toronto General Hospital, and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Physicians Services Incorporated (PSI) Foundation. The full study will be released today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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