High omega-3 index may reduce COVID-19 mortality risk

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Higher omega-3 blood levels may reduce risk for death from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to new research published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids.

The study included 100 patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 for whom admission blood samples had been stored. Clinical outcomes for the patients were obtained and blood was analyzed for Omega-3 Index (OCI), red blood cell membrane eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels. Fourteen of the patients died, according to the study.

The patients were grouped into four quartiles according to their O3I, with 25 percent of the patients in each quartile. There was one death in the top quartile, with 13 deaths in the remaining patients. In age-and-sex adjusted regression analyses, those in the highest quartile were 75 percent less likely to die compared with those in the lower three quartiles. Stated another way, the relative risk for death was about four times higher in those with a lower O3I compared to those with higher levels.

"While not meeting standard statistical significance thresholds, this pilot study, along with multiple lines of evidence regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA and DHA, strongly suggests that these nutritionally available marine fatty acids may help reduce risk for adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients,” said Arash Asher, MD, lead author on this study, in a statement. “Larger studies are clearly needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

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