A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension has found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, often found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements, can be as effective or more effective in controlling blood pressure than diet and exercise.

The study, funded by the nonprofit group Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), found that EPA and DHA consumption reduced blood pressure nearly twice as much as reducing sodium, more than twice as much as increasing physical activity, and more than four times as much as reducing consumption of alcohol.

"Results from this study build on a wealth of prior data indicating that EPA+DHA intake reduced the risk of cardiovascular events," said Adam Ismail, GOED's executive director. "It is now well-established that EPA and DHA reduce triglycerides and blood pressure and even highly critical meta-analyses have found that they reduce cardiac death risk by 9 percent."

The study could be used to help patients avoid medication for controlling high blood pressure, especially if they are borderline candidates for requiring it.

"When measuring blood pressure, even small reductions can have a significant clinical impact," said Dominik D. Alexander, PhD, MSPH, senior author of the study.

For a patient with a pre-hypertensive condition, Alexander noted, the decreases from consuming EPA and DHA "could help an individual avoid having to take medication to control blood pressure levels."

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