The left ventricle is one of the four chambers of the heart and it’s located at the bottom left part of the organ. It receives oxygenated blood from the left atrium (which is smack dab above it) and pumps it out to the body. Given its function, it’s the most muscular of the heart chambers.
Unfortunately, age and a host of contributing factors causes the left ventricle to thicken and alter shape (remodeling), causing its “ejection fraction” (the amount of blood it pumps out) to suffer.
You’d think that having parts of the heart be thicker or more muscular would be a good thing, but not in this case. A thickening of the left ventricle makes it less pliable, less able to sloosh the right volume of blood through your arterial system (what’s known as the “ejection fraction”).
Now, if you were to ask 100 cardiologists what it was that causes this thickening, or for that matter, heart disease in general, around 95 of them would probably answer inflammation, and that’s absolutely the case here. Several pro-inflammatory cytokines (any of several substances that are secreted by specialized cells of the immune system that influence other cells) are directly implicated in this thickening of the left ventricle. These bad-boy cytokines include tumor necrosis factor, interferon gamma, interleukin-1beta, and interleukins 6,17, and 18.
Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., fish oil), however, appear to put a spoke in the wheels of these cytokines and prevent or ameliorate left ventricular remodeling.