Health Questions and Answers

Question: What are the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the inflammatory reaction?

Answer:

Part of the process of atherosclerosis is an inflammatory reaction in damaged blood vessels. High blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoke, and possibly homocysteine can damage arterial linings and initiate repetitive cycles of injury, inflammation, and repair. These inflammatory cycles, continuing over decades, are thought to contribute to the growth of obstructive plaques. Omega-3 fatty acids have a significant generalized anti-inflammatory effect which is mediated through the formation of inhibitory prostaglandins. Particular prostaglandins can inhibit the immune system in general and the inflammatory reaction in particular. Administration of omega-3 fatty acids may inhibit the inflammatory component of atherosclerosis and help slow the rate of progression of the disease.

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