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Intermittent claudication is a tightening sensation in the calf due to a lack of blood needed to supply those muscles with oxygen during exercise or movement, ultimately resulting in the patient to slow or stop movement. It is the most common presenting symptom for people with chronic lower limb arterial disease resulting from atherosclerosis due to a narrowing of the arteries that supply the lower limbs with blood. People with mild lower limb arterial disease are advised to stop smoking, exercise, and take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke. There is no widely accepted medication to treat claudication.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish oils, eggs, fruits and vegetables. They are essential nutrients in that the body cannot synthesize omega-3 fatty acids de novo.

The review included six studies representing a total of 313 participants, comparing omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with other fatty acids. On the basis of these studies, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation did not improve ankle brachial pressure index or walking distance. Blood viscosity was also reduced with seven weeks to two years of supplementation. There appear to be some haematological benefits but there is little evidence for improved clinical outcomes. Notably, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol were slightly increased after omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with four week to four months supplementation.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids must be considered in light of potential increases in blood cholesterol levels. —Cochrane 2008



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