Beyond the Mediterranean Diet: The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease

Charles R. Harper, MD, Terry A. Jacobson, MD


Prev Cardiol. 2003;6(3) 

In This Article


Evidence from epidemiologic studies and human intervention trials supports a role for n-3 fatty acids in the prevention of CHD. The role of n-3 fatty acids in the secondary prevention of CHD is clearly supported by recent randomized clinical trials including the GISSI Prevenzione Study and the Lyon Diet Heart Study. While these trials have not definitively shown a reduction in nonfatal MI, they have clearly shown a reduction in sudden cardiac death, strongly suggesting an antiarrhythmic effect. The current US consumption of n-3 fatty acids is significantly below recommended levels and new American Heart Association recommendations suggest consuming at least two fish meals per week. Although additional trials are needed, the favorable safety profile and existing clinical trials suggest n-3 fatty acids should be considered a new important adjunct to existing cardiovascular prevention strategies.


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