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  • 2019 04 Medicine, Omega-3 fatty acids do not protect us, New guideline for stroke
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The Massachusetts Medical Society chooses the most important medical topics each year. You’ve already heard the four most important medical topics from the year 2018. This month, you hear the next two topics from the year 2018.

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy. But they cannot be produced by the human body itself. We have to ingest them with food, for example from cold water fishes such as some anchovy species, herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon, or from nuts and seeds, for example walnuts, or from flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and canola oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the cell membranes of our body and for certain tissue hormones. If we eat enough omega-3 fatty acids with our food, our risks for cardiovascular disease (for heart attacks and strokes) and cancer decline. Does this work also with omega-3 fatty acid tablets? That is the big question. Two large and well-designed clinical studies about this question were published in 2018. One clinical study, VITAL, included nearly 26 thousand people, their age either middle age or elderly. The other clinical study, ASCEND, included almost 16 thousand diabetics who were at least 40 years old. In both studies, the participants either took a placebo daily, or an omega-3 fatty acid tablet daily. The results of these two clinical studies: Daily omega-3 fatty acid tablets unfortunately do not protect us. This is a sobering result. Unfortunately, no protective effects against cardiovascular disease (against heart attacks and strokes). Unfortunately, no protective effects against cancer.

The second medical news today: There is a new guideline for the treatment of stroke. The Americans just updated their guideline.  The German guideline has not been updated yet. However, the German guideline currently is in the process of being checked and an update is expected soon. The new version of the (American) guideline and the old version of the guideline are more or less identical, except in a few points, of which one seems to be important. In ischaemic strokes, i.e. strokes caused by the closure of one or more blood vessels in the brain, the time window for a certain therapeutic procedure, mechanical thrombectomy, has been extended; this procedure can now be performed also for after more than six hours after symptom onset. In other words, the new guideline allows more time to perform this procedure, to actively help patients with stroke.