March 7/Salt Lake City/Business Wire -- A study published online shows that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA -- commonly found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements -- are as effective, if not more effective, in lowering blood pressure as some of the commonly recommended lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and restricting alcohol and sodium intake. The findings, released by the American Journal of Hypertension, are good news, especially for those with elevated blood pressure -- estimated to be approximately 60% of the U.S. adult population.

“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, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED). “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%."

The study, a comprehensive meta-analysis, examined 70 randomized controlled trials, or RCTs, conducted with adults who were given EPA+DHA omega-3s from seafood, fortified foods, or dietary supplements. The study included trials with subjects with normal blood pressure and those with hypertension but not taking blood pressure-lowering medications.

The most significant effects were observed in subjects with existing high blood pressure. Among those with high blood pressure, the average decrease in systolic blood pressure (SBP) was 4.51mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was reduced by an average 3.05mm Hg. Additional observations included:

  • An average decline in SBP of 1.52mm Hg and in DBP of 0.99mm Hg among all subjects
  • A drop in SBP by an average 1.25mm Hg and in DBP by 0.62mm Hg in normotensive subjects
  • An average decrease in SBP of 1.75mm Hg and in DBP of 1.11mm Hg among those subjects taking EPA and DHA supplements, like fish oils, regardless of blood pressure status