Fish Oil Supplements Help Stabilize Chronic Kidney Disease

Patients with both diabetes and coronary artery disease often develop chronic kidney disease. Increasing levels of a protein, albumin, in the urine is one of the key indicators of the development and progression of chronic kidney disease. This is referred to as albuminuria. Normal, healthy kidneys filter out large protein molecules and do not allow them to pass into the urine. The presence of albumin in the urine is an indicator of improperly functioning kidneys. This is best measured by looking at the albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) in the urine. 

72.3% of patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease saw an increase in their ACR over a one year period, meaning that they had a decline in their kidney function. Only 63.3% of those patients who were treated with either an angiotensin-converting enzyme-inhibitor (ACE) or angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) (both types of blood pressure medications) experienced an increase in their albumin to creatinine ratio.  However, those patients with both diabetes and coronary heart disease who took fish oil (2.3 gm of EPA and DHA) had no change in their ACR.  In fact, not only did these patients not see a decline in their kidney function, some of the patients who took fish oil saw an improvement in their kidney function via a decrease in their ACR, whereas none of the patients who took ACEs or ARBs saw such a reversal.  

My interpretation of this paper is that fish oil essentially reduced to zero the likelihood that patients with both coronary artery disease and diabetes would progress to chronic kidney disease, at least over a one year period, which patients taking the drugs that are the current standard of care–ACEs or ARBs did not experience. In fact, some of these patients saw an improvement of kidney function, which the blood pressure meds were unable to accomplish.  If this is not enough to demonstrate a significant benefit of fish oil supplementation, then I don’t know what is.  If fish oil was a prescription drug, it would become a billion dollar drug.

Reference:

Elajami TKAlfaddagh ALakshminarayan D, et al..  Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids attenuate progression of albuminuria in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Coronary Artery Disease.  

http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/6/7/e004740.long

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