Fish oil study could pave way for better blood pressure treatments18 December 2019
New research will aim to better understand how fish oils can help to reduce blood pressure.
Eating oily fish or taking fish oil supplements that are high in omega-3 help to reduce blood pressure, a risk factor for heart attack and strokes. It is thought that fish oils have the ability to dilate (relax) blood vessels, but it’s not yet clear how they do this.
Dr Alister McNeish, Associate Professor in Cardiovascular Pharmacology at the University of Reading, will examine how fish oils interact with tiny pores in cells known as potassium channels. When the fish oils react with potassium channels, this causes the vessels to relax.
Subreena Simrick, our Senior Research Adviser, said:
“Around 50 per cent of heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure – that’s why we’re supporting researchers to find new ways to cut the risk of this silent killer."
Thanks to our grant worth over £225,000, Dr McNeish’s team will study mouse arteries to determine how this interaction occurs and what effect this has.
The findings could help to inform future dietary advice and pinpoint the action of fish oils on blood pressure. Dr McNeish hopes this interaction could be mimicked in a new range of treatments designed to lower blood pressure.
Dr McNeish said:
“We hope to understand the chemical properties of the fish oils and how they activate the potassium channel proteins to relax blood vessels – triggering subsequent reductions in blood pressure.
“Understanding the effect of fish oils could lead to new ways to combat high blood pressure, which affects nearly 30 per cent of UK adults.
“We know that eating fish as part of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet can help to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Understanding exactly how fish oils keep our circulation healthy could reveal new ways of treating people with high blood pressure.
“Research projects like this are only made possible by the generous funding of our supporters, who are helping us in our mission to beat heartbreak forever.”