Fish Oil: What’s in it for me?
In medicine, there has been a huge emphasis in preventative care and this mostly occurs in general practice. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the world, and therefore a disease process we should be trying to prevent with all the tools in our armamentarium. It has been well proven that n-3 fatty acids reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with history of congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction, but what about patients with risk factors for cardiovascular disease that have not had a myocardial infarction?
What they did:
- Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial
- 12,505 patients (6239 n-3 fatty acids vs 6266 placebo)
- Patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors or cardiovascular disease without history of myocardial infarction
- Is there benefit of n-3 fatty acids in patients without history of myocardial infarction
Primary Outcomes: Time to death from cardiovascular causes or admission to the hospital for cardiovascular causes
- 733/6239 (11.7%) met the primary endpoint in the n-3 fatty acid arm
- 745/6266 (11.9%) met the primary endpoint in the placebo (olive oil) arm
- Death at 5 years in n-3 fatty acid arm (2.3%) vs placebo arm (2.2%)
- None of the results were statistically significant
- Only Italian population
Conclusion: Patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors, without history of myocardial infarction, daily treatment with n-3 fatty acids, DOES NOT reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality
In my opinion, how this affects your practice:
- This study had no statistically significant end points
- The literature is mixed on the cardioprotective effect of n-3 fatty acids
- To date, there is NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE to recommend fish oil supplementation for primary or secondary prevention of CVD in patients without prior history of myocardial infarction
References: 1. Risk and Prevention Study Collaborative Group et al. n-# Fatty Acids in Patients with Multiple Cardiovascular Risk Factors. NEJM 2013 May; 368: 1800 – 08. PMID: 23656645 2. Roth EM et al. Fish Oil for Primary and Secondary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep 2010 Jan; 12 (1): 66 – 72. PMID: 20425273 _______________________________________________________________________________
Dr. Salim R. Rezaie is a physician at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is double board-certified in Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine.