(HealthDay News) — Regularly eating fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a review published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues analyzed 19 studies from 16 countries that involved 45,637 people. Of these individuals, 7,973 had CHD, and 2,781 cases resulted in death.

The researchers found that the omega-3 biomarkers α-linolenic acid (ALA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were associated with a lower risk of fatal CHD. The relative risks (RRs) were 0.91 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84 to 0.98) for ALA, 0.90 (95% CI, 0.85 to 0.96) for DPA, and 0.90 (95% CI, 0.84 to 0.96) for DHA. The team also found that while DPA was associated with a lower risk of total CHD (RR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99), ALA (RR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.95 to 1.05), eicosapentaenoic acid (RR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.87 to 1.02), and DHA (RR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.00) were not.

“These new results, including many studies which previously had not reported their findings, provide the most comprehensive picture to date of how omega-3s may influence heart disease,” a coauthor said in a Tufts news release. “Across these diverse studies, findings were also consistent by age, sex, race, presence or absence of diabetes, and use of aspirin or cholesterol-lowering medications.”

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1. Del Gobbo LC, Imamura F, Aslibekyan S, et al. ω-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Biomarkers and Coronary Heart Disease. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 27 June. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2925. [Epub ahead of print]