Omega-3 Fatty Acid Does Not Lower Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events
‘Our findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice’ for
cardiovascular protection, says large review of published studies
Sept. 11, 2011 - In a study that included nearly 70,000 patients, supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty
acids was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause death, cardiac death, sudden death, heart attack, or stroke, according to an analysis
of previous studies published in the September 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
“Treatment with marine-derived omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for the prevention of major cardiovascular
adverse outcomes has been supported by a number of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and refuted by others.
“Although their mechanism of action is not clear, their postulated effect on cardiovascular outcomes may be due to their
ability to lower triglyceride levels, prevent serious arrhythmias, or even decrease platelet aggregation and lower blood pressure,” according
to background information in the article.
“Current guidelines issued by major societies recommend their use, either as supplements or through dietary counseling,
for patients after myocardial infarction (MI; heart attack), whereas the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved their administration
only as triglyceride-lowering agents in patients with overt hypertriglyceridemia, and some (but not all) European national regulatory agencies
have approved the omega-3 administration for cardiovascular risk modification.
“The controversy stemming from the varying labeling indications causes confusion in everyday clinical practice about
whether to use these agents for cardiovascular protection.”
Evangelos C. Rizos, M.D., Ph.D., of the University Hospital of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece, and colleagues performed a
large-scale synthesis of the available randomized evidence by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the association
between omega-3 PUFAs and major cardiovascular outcomes.
Of the 3,635 citations retrieved, 20 studies with 68,680 randomized patients were included, reporting
● 7,044 deaths,
● 3,993 cardiac deaths,
● 1,150 sudden deaths,
● 1,837 heart attacks, and
● 1,490 strokes.
Analysis indicated no statistically significant association with all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, heart
attack, and stroke when all supplement studies were considered.
“In conclusion, omega-3 PUFAs are not statistically significantly associated with major cardiovascular outcomes across
various patient populations. Our findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or
guidelines supporting dietary omega-3 PUFA administration.
“Randomized evidence will continue to accumulate in the field, yet an individual patient data meta-analysis would be more
appropriate to refine possible associations related to, among others, dose, adherence, baseline intake, and cardiovascular disease risk
group,” the authors conclude.
Note: Dr. Elisaf reported having given talks, attended conferences, and participated in trials sponsored by industry not
associated with those that manufacture or market omega-3 supplements.
More Links to Archived Stories about Omega-3 Fatty Acids
UK researchers find omega-3 fatty acids slow down osteoarthritis, at least in guinea pigs; I think it worked for me!
By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com
Oct. 17, 2011 – As an active
– well very active – tennis player for many years, when I turned 70 I was worried my playing days might end due to my aching knees. I never
took the court without wearing the latest in knee protection devices. Then, shortly after I increased my daily regimen of fish oil pills, the
knee pain disappeared. I was convinced my joints were now better “oiled.” New research says there may be something to this.
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