The study – published in American Journal of Critical Care – assessed the impact of a feeding formula enriched with fish oil on healing of pre-existing pressure ulcers in critically ill patients.
Led by Professor Pierre Singer of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, the researchers noted that bedsores are a common problem in critically ill patients, where the sores result from constant pressure on the skin and underlying tissue due to prolonged sitting or lying down.
Such bedsores are painful and prone to infection, meaning that they need to be healed, said Singer.
Inspired by previous studies suggesting fish oil supplements raised oxygen levels in body tissues on critically ill patients, Singer and his fellow researchers sought to determine whether supplementation could also help heal bedsores – which are also formed by a lack of oxygen, reduced blood flow, and skin wetness.
Fish oil trial
The team developed a randomised study with 40 critically ill patients. Half the patients were given standard hospital diets, and the rest had a daily addition of eight grams of fish oil added in their food.
After a three-week period, the researchers found not only a significant lessening of pain and discomfort from bedsores — a 20 to 25% improvement according to the Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing — but also a more efficient immune system and a reduction to inflammation throughout the body.
"We saw a modification in the expression of a group of molecules associated with directing leukocytes, or white blood cells, in the direction of the wound, which could explain the improved healing," explained Singer.
In addition, researchers noted a significant decrease in the amount of C-reactive protein in the blood – which is associated with inflammation and linked to viral and bacterial infections, rheumatic diseases, tissue injury, and necrosis.
Source: American Journal of Critical Care
Volume 21, Number 4, Pages e102-e109, doi: 10.4037/ajcc2012187
“Impact of a Nutritional Formula Enriched in Fish Oil and Micronutrients on Pressure Ulcers in Critical Care Patients”
Authors: Miriam Theilla, Betty Schwartz, Jonathan Cohen, Haim Shapiro, Ronit Anbar, Pierre Singer