Report: Omega 3 Can Lead to Societal Health Care Savings

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13 Feb 2014 --- This February, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month, a new economic report brings awareness to the numerous benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for heart health. While these benefits are well-established for men and women in all stages of life, for U.S. adults over 55 with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), the benefits extend beyond heart health, and into their wallets.

The report, “Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements,” conducted by Frost & Sullivan through a grant from the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation (CRNF), shows that if this targeted population, U.S. adults over the age of 55 with CHD, take omega-3 dietary supplements at the preventive intake levels identified in the report, it can lead to individual and societal health care savings.

“Our country is faced with a serious problem when it comes to sick care and rising health care costs,” said Steve Mister, president, CRNF. “Taking dietary supplements, such as omega-3s, is not a magic bullet by any means, but it’s one preventive measure that should be considered along with eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly to potentially help maintain a healthy heart. Given the costs of treating medical events that result from CHD, simple steps like this can help reduce health care costs, too.”

Omega-3s, the third most popular dietary supplement among U.S. adults 55 and older1, are the “good fats” that our bodies need to survive. Their essential role in the diet is recognized by authoritative bodies such as the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, all of which have current policies advising Americans to eat more fatty fish to get the benefits of omega-3 fish oils.

“Unfortunately most Americans are not eating enough fatty fish to reap the full benefits of omega-3s,” said Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition. “So omega-3 supplementation is a viable option, especially for anyone who doesn’t eat fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, regularly. Omega-3s help lower triglycerides and support healthy blood flow—two factors which play a role in coronary heart disease.”

According to the report, nearly $4 billion in cumulative net CHD-attributed cost savings from 2013 to 2020 is potentially realizable if the entire targeted population (U.S. adults over the age of 55 diagnosed with CHD) were to use omega-3 dietary supplements at preventive intake levels. This is the equivalent of more than one million hospital events avoided in the next seven years, the report stated. Additionally, the report identified that only 28 percent of the targeted population currently takes omega-3 supplements, meaning that 72 percent of the targeted population have yet to benefit.

To achieve the results, Frost & Sullivan conducted a systematic review of scientific research that focused on published studies that looked at the relationship between omega-3 supplementation and the risk of a CHD-attributed event and quantified the reduction in medical events attributed to that usage. The firm then projected the rates of CHD-attributed medical events across U.S. adults over the age of 55 with CHD and applied a cost benefit analysis to determine the cost savings if people in this targeted population took omega-3 supplements at preventive intake levels.

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