Prescription Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Their Lipid Effects: Physiologic Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Implications

Harold E Bays; Ann P Tighe; Richard Sadovsky; Michael H Davidson


Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2008;6(3):391-409. 

In This Article

Five-year View

Due to its unique benefits, interest continues to increase regarding new formulations of omega-3 fatty acids, such as potential combination agents with other lipid-altering drugs, such as niacin, fibrates and statins.

In addition to its therapeutic use for hypertriglyceridemia, omega-3 fatty acids, in general, have also been studied for potential efficacy in the treatment of numerous noncardiac conditions, such as inflammatory and arthritic disorders,[122,123,124,125,126,127,128,129,130,131,132,133,134,135] neurologic/neuropsychiatric disorders,[122,136,137,138,139,140,141,142,143,144,145,146,147,148] ophthalmic disorders,[149,150] women's health issues,[135,151,152] cancer[153,154,155] and other disorders.[156,157,158] However, the benefits in treating many, if not most of these noncardiac disorders have yet to be definitively proven. Results of future clinical trials should better define the efficacy and safety of omega-3 fatty acid therapy in these conditions.

In contrast to noncardiovascular effects, the evidence supporting the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acid therapy is more compelling,[27,77,159] and includes possible antidysrhythmic,[160,161,162,163,164,165,166,167,168,169,170] antiatherogenic,[82,171,172,173,174,175,176,177,178,179] antithrombotic[172,180,181,182,183,184] and anti-inflammatory endothelial effects.[183,185,186,187] However, yet again, more definitive evidence is needed in order to substantiate these potential benefits. As such, ongoing clinical trials are seeking to better define these potential beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Specific ongoing cardiac and noncardiac P-OM3 trials are registered at[198] and summarized in Table 5 .


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