Omega-3: Fishing Out the Recent Evidence

JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH


June 04, 2013

In This Article

Disappointing Results From Omega-3 Fatty Acids Trials

A recent report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine[1] in early May. Patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors were given 1 gram of fish oil per day vs placebo, and it showed no benefit. Also, other meta-analyses have been published in the past year[2,3] that looked at all of the randomized trials in aggregate. These are secondary-prevention, randomized trials with high-risk populations. In general, these meta-analyses have shown disappointing results.

It is very important to keep in mind that these high-risk populations -- secondary-prevention populations -- include many individuals who are already taking multiple heart medications such as statins, aspirin, and ACE inhibitors, which may obscure the effect of omega-3 fatty acids. There may be very little incremental benefit from omega-3 fatty acids in that setting. What can we conclude from these recent findings?


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