THURSDAY, July 29, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Doctors have identified a new risk factor for heart disease, according to an article in the July issue of Preventive Medicine.
The Omega-3 Index measures the levels of the most heart-healthy omega-3 oils, gained mostly by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements.
Research has shown that an Omega-3 Index of 8 percent to 10 percent reduces a person's relative risk of death from coronary heart disease by 40 percent, and from sudden cardiac death by 90 percent.
However, lower levels of omega-3 oils in a person's body can increase the risk of heart disease, said researchers at St. Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City.
"We are designed to thrive on a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, but most Americans eat far too little fish to reap any benefits from the omega-3 oils," lead researcher Dr. William Harris said in a prepared statement. "Even those who regularly eat fish or take fish oil supplements may not be getting enough for their unique, individual needs."
The American Heart Association has more about fish oils.