Study: Fish, soy oil reduces elderly heart attack risk

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Daily intake of fish or soy oil is good for the aging heart, a new study says.

An elderly person who takes daily supplements of omega-3 fatty acids from soy or fish is less at risk for sudden heart attack, according to the findings of a research team with members from Atlanta, Boston and Mexico.

They found that heart rate variability – a key measure of healthy heartbeat function – improves quickly among those 60 and older who have being taking these supplements. The report appears in the April issue of Chest.

Researchers in 2000 and 2001 studied the HRV levels of 52 male and female nursing home residents whose regular dietary intake of fish was assessed as "poor." All were over the age of 60, and none relied on a pacemaker or had a prior history of arrhythmia.

Fish oil capsules offered the greatest overall cardiac benefit, researchers found. Those taking the fish oil capsules were quicker to improve their HRV levels than those taking the soy oil capsules. And those ingesting fish oil experienced HRV increases within just three weeks, compared to eight weeks in those taking soy oil.