Fish Oil Doesn't Cut Heart Risk

Omega 3 fatty acids do not offer secondary prevention against cardiovascular disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, squid, flaxseed and plant oils, may not be your ticket to heart health. Omega-3 supplements were not found to protect cardiovascular patients from future heart events.

Previous research has suggested that fish oil could offer a heart benefit,  

A recent review study found there was no evidence that supplements offered a secondary preventive effect in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease.

"Focus on a healthy diet and blood pressure control to reduce heart risk."

Seung-Kwon Myung, MD, chief of the carcinogenesis branch of the National Cancer Center in South Korea, initiated the study to evaluate inconclusive evidence about the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in preventing subsequent heart events, such as heart attacks or strokes.

During the review study investigators analyzed 14 randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trials that involved more than 20,000 patients with a history of heart disease. Participants received supplements of omega-3 fatty acids during the trials.

They found that fish oil supplements did not lower the risk of future cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, heart failure or strokes, and did not reduce a patients' chance of dying from any cause. A small reduction in cardiovascular-related deaths was found among patients taking omega-3 supplements, but that association was negated by excluding one study with methodological problems.

With that study excluded, investigators found that patients taking omega-3 supplements had virtually the same risk of a heart-related death as those who did not take the supplements.

A subgroup analysis also revealed no significant preventative effect. Those smaller reviews included: by country, by patients with a history of heart disease, treatment duration, quality of trials and an analysis of patients that were also taking other medications.

The study was published April 9 in journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Review Date: 
April 14, 2012
Last Updated:
April 15, 2012